The Aquabats
The Return of the Aquabats



by Clumpy USER (29 Reviews)
March 31st, 2005 | 2 replies

Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An Energetic Debut For a Band Destined to World Domination

The Return of the Aquabats!
by Clumpy

"Learning of their peril, [the Professor] decided to help [The Aquabats] fight their cause by giving them the only gift he was capable of: the power of insanity. Through the use of the Professor's scientifically altered convenience store foods, these 8 (or 9) men gained powers well beyond that of ordinary Aquabanians. They became the 'AquaBuds'. . . then the 'AquaBoys'. . . then finally, just 'Mel and Friends.' But later, the truth was revealed to them - THEY WERE THE 'AQUABATS'! . . ."

- From the CD's packaging


The first release from phenomenal Ska/Rock group The Aquabats is unique in its own right. It's the most heavily ska-influenced release by the band, certainly - the trumpets are louder than the band's later releases. It's also a little rough around the edges - some of the vocals are a little hard to listen to (especially since The Bat Commander finds it necessary to rap instead of sing to certain lines of the songs - awkward when compared to the later remakes of three of the songs on this record), and some instrumentations feel awkward (for every great use of instruments, like the fantastic drumming in "Tarantula", there's a bizarre musical decision to contrast, such as the overly-loud trumpets in "Martian Girl".)

Don't think the energy level on this release is low, though; The Aquabats rock through this album's thirty-four minutes with fun and good humor, never missing a beat or a joke opportunity. Even the album's packaging brims with good-natured humor, from the hilarious traditional "update" on our superheroes' current situation, to the self-mocking in-jokes in the lyrics: "Untranslatable nonsense, a sorry attempt at toasting / Complete jibber in a terrible Jamaican accent". There's no better antidote to the cliched angst and power chords of today's rock bands than ska's resident uberliebchen.

Unfortunately, therein lies the rub - music fans reared on the meaningless lyrics and misplaced rebelliousness of recent rock (no offense intended, chumps) may be put off by The Aquabats' bizarre lack of any sort of convention:

"Wait a minute - they're superheroes?"

"Yes; they were forced to escape their homeland of Aquabania following the invasion of the evil Space Monster 'M.' "

"And they write songs about aliens, supervillains, epic battles and bio-engineered kittens?"

"Yes, of course."

Don't expect your newbie conversation to happen exactly that way - that's just an example.

"In the evening they played music (which the Professor secretly combined with his own Hypno-mind-controlling wave patterns). This would help them gain the unwilling loyalty of those who would dare to listen! By gaining such a following the Professor knew they (and he) could gain power over the evil forces that led them so far from home. Armed with radioactive rash guards and anti-negativity helmets, these 8 (or 9) Aquabats had set out to CONQUER THE WORLD!!!"

- From the CD's Packaging

The instrumentation on this release features much less variety than later releases by the band. "The Return of the Aquabats" is totally ska - trumpets, surf guitars, sax, tinny drums, and a cute little Farfisa Organ. Compared to the Devo-like rock of "The Aquabats Vs. the Floating Eye of Death!" and the band's heavily synthesized B-Sides record, "Myths, Legends. . .", the instrumentation in this freshman release is both refreshingly simple and somewhat sparse. Fand of the band should definitely pick this up - it's got the same energy you expect from the band, just a little rawer. For newbies, I recommend either "The Fury of the Aquabats" or "The Aquabats Vs. the Floating Eye of Death!".

Conclusion: Leave your brain behind with your Tool records and you'll have a great time.


This song is a throwback to the singer's childhood - Star Wars action figures, waiting for the newest issue of the toy catalog, and one-piece pajamas. It's a cute song, and the opening is nice, but I much prefer the version on The Aquabats' follow-up record, "The Fury of The Aquabats".

Martian Girl:
A love song to a man-eating silver-clothed alien. It's a great live song, but this song is downright annoying on this release. The trumpets are way too loud - the version on "The Fury of the Aquabats" is much better. (Don't worry - that's the last time you'll hear that.)

Ska Robot Army:
Possibly the catchiest song ever released by The Aquabats, this is almost an instrumental. There's some singing towards the end, but the star is the incredibly-catchy riff.

Idiot Box:
"I've been to California, where Mickey Mouse is a demon." Great, fast fun. Also a cautionary tale about the effects of television. It doesn't have the hilarious off-tune "la-la-la" bridge of the later version, but great nonetheless.

Pinch and Roll:
Probably one of the funniest songs released by The Aquabats (for a variety of reasons), "Pinch and Roll" works bizarre humor around the theme of male itch. Avoiding the potential vulgarity this could have entailed, most of the humor in the song beats around the bush (no pun intended). I could say more, but I'll leave you with these lyrics from the song:

"So if you've got a problem
You know what to do (whoo hoo hoo hoo),
Whether you're watching TV,
Or sniffing airplane glue (which we don't do)."

Great drumming, and a fairly epic sound, this is the "Monsters Wedding" of this release. Essentially a rescue story (Professor Jones must rescue his daughter from the terrible Tarantula, who lives in the "pit of the webby hole" ), the song features great drumming and a great chorus.

Marshmallow Man:
My personal favorite from this record, this song is completely catchy and upbeat (I know I say that a lot in reference to The Aquabats, but that doesn't make it less true). The song is loosely about the nasty cycle of repeat incarcerations for repeat criminals (and the ignorance of those who can't fit into society without harming others), but this tale of the 'little puffy head ' - the Marshmallow Man, is extremely catchy ska.

Aquabat March:
The theme song of the record, "Aquabat March" is an appeal for others to live peacefully with the 'Bats. It's their march, of course - and the yells of the irate drill seargant fill the song:

"Please don't kill us -
We're just The Aquabats.
We're just trying to have a little fun.
So if you want to fight, we can duke it out,
Just please don't kill me with your gun."

CD Repo Man:
This band isn't without some great ideas - this song is about a "repo man" whose job is to forcibly return CDs "borrowed" by others. It's a grooving little song, with great guitar work (and a great interlude). It bridges seamlessly into the carnival music of the next song:

It's Crazy, Man!:
Filled with ramblings in other languages, both real and imagined (for every "Permanecer Sentado!", there's a "Churro!" ). It hits all the bases - ramblings in foreign languages, object lessong on dental hygiene - what else could you want in a song?

Thanks for reading! Please vote if you liked the review!
Contact the author of this review at

Recent reviews by this author
Man Man Six Demon BagArctic Monkeys Favourite Worst Nightmare
Battles MirroredBelle and Sebastian The Life Pursuit
Eels Electro-Shock BluesGorillaz Demon Days
user ratings (86)

Comments:Add a Comment 
July 24th 2005


Aquabats Rock

July 25th 2005


Album Rating: 3.5

Good review. I completely agree. Every record after this one is better.

You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile


Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Site Copyright 2005-2023
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy