Review Summary: "I've been invited to a party with demons and dickheads."
Upon hearing about None More Black‘s decision to go on hiatus aside from playing the odd show now and again, I thought to myself: “You can’t f
ucking do this to me again Jason Shevchuk you asshole
,” referring to the demise of the singer’s previous band Kid Dynamite. I had long since rested the blame squarely at his doorstep because I couldn’t have the guys from Lifetime shoulder it. I’m from New Jersey- that’s like treason. It couldn’t have been the bassist’s fault because he was around when KD released a vocal-free demo. That’s about as far as I figured. Jason Shevchuk became their vocalist and eventually the band dissolved. It’s basic rock and roll physics. In 2006 with None More Black’s apparent demise, I had sadly dismissed it as a statistical inevitability.
In 2010 however, None More Black promptly rallied around their front man and told me to screw myself by unleashing Icons
, one of the best punk albums in recent memory. Released on Fat Wreck Chords, Icons
features a much higher level of production than the bands previous outings. This allows the now-redeemed Shevchuk’s rough howl to come across with some Mescaleros-era Joe Strummer flair. From the poppy, more melodic “StillsSternLange&Norris” to the more frantic offerings such as “I’m Warning You With Peace and Love,” he does a great job of conveying through sound how much fun he’s having and how much raw emotion he’s feeling; especially with lines like “I give everything I’ve got ’til it hurts.” NMB get a solid performance from the newest in their revolving door of drummers, Richard Minino. But guitarist Colin McGinniss steals the show on Icons
, producing a spectacular mish-mash of riffs and breakdowns that are almost sure to sear themselves into your mind after a listen or two. Like their leader the instrumentalists seem to be enjoying themselves immensely, and a result Icons
is without a doubt NMB’s most focused release yet, but also their most relaxed and accessible. The album’s sound will make you want to get up and dance and crowd punch the guy closest to you at the same time.
The album is strikingly consistent, but still plays around in sound enough that it never drags. Cleverly penned lyrics that are both shockingly honest and easy to relate to, such as in “When Mickey Died” Shevchuk croons as the guitars fade slightly “It’s like Philadelphia/In 1999/I skipped a few more classes/To toe that social line.” Sounds like the moral dilemma of any teenager who has ever smoked weed before. The result is from beginning to end everything is viral. And I mean that in the best possible way. Before you’ve even pin-pointed everything there is to like about an individual track, the next one’s almost sure to be starting. It’s as if the band hijacked a train to throw a huge kegger and without warning, at random had various people stand on top of a boxcar with them and yell things at the passing scenery. The crown jewel of this railroad affair being “Here Comes Devereux” the most sonically diverse track, featuring a serious change-up in the sound of the backing vocals with “a middle finger to complete the chord.” This track alone could have almost carried an album of complete s
hit by itself.
Wholly to the quality of the album’s credit, the only problem is that Icons
is a little bit short. It’s an unusual complaint, I know, but I can’t help wanting MORE. It’s seriously that good. I can’t imagine any melodic hardcore fan listening to this dazzling record and not wishing NMB has thrown in another track or too just to flesh things out a bit. Selfish as that may be, remember I’m the guy who blames the singer for everything. Icons
is one of the best punk releases of the year, it won’t take an expert to work that out. It’s the type of album that can capture you in one listen but still offer you something new to catch after a thousand. None More Black are back, and thank god they haven’t wound up like another favorite band of mine close to my home and close to my heart that was torpedoed by their singer, Midtown. Because that’s what gifted the universe with Cobra Starship. I’m happy to eat crow for Icons.