Review Summary: Not worried of what’s coming to me, already in hell...
If you’re keen on drunken punk music you can easily shout along to, Off with Their Heads are the band for you. Bouncing right back where they left off six years ago with Home
, their music still thrives on shredding guitars and hoarse vocals that sound ravaged by years of cigarette smoke. At this point, they’ve clearly mastered their craft of loud, anthem-heavy rock tunes; they’ve never sounded as amped up or as varied as they do here. Be Good
isn’t as instantly melodic or infectious as Home
, but it’s easily the band’s most mature and relatable effort to date. It’s punk music that can be proudly sung by people in their 30s. And your grandpa, too!
For the most part, Be Good
is nothing more than 11 tracks with the volume cranked up to the max. However, there are several unexpected curve-balls that keep the album sounding refreshing in comparison to the band’s past work. Vocalist Ryan Young has made some insane improvements – sounding more charged than ever on every track, but also much more versatile. His voice has a gruff demeanor in general, but he really pushes himself to the limit here – sporadically extending verses into bursts of rage that were nowhere to be found on their last album. It also doesn’t hurt his bandmates aren’t far behind; there’s no shortage of energy in the pummeling drums and dynamic guitars that make up the adrenaline ride of Be Good.
Although Off with Their Heads’ music often feels rather impersonal – more of a good time than a serious statement – Be Good
contains some of their most raw and engaging work yet. Cathartic unlike anything they’ve done, “Take Me Away” raises the bar for the band. It begins with a softer inflection than we typically hear from Young before exploding into the biting sing-along of Somebody Take, Take, Take me Awayyyy.
The song perfectly encapsulates the intense, anxious feeling of needing a break – even a minute’s rest – from all of life’s noise. It’s just so damn massive – everything from the buildup to the payoff being perfectly placed. The last minute of the song also contains some of the most uneasy screams Young has ever let loose. It’s a reinvigorating career highlight, perhaps only rivaled by the impactful one-two punch of “Locking Eyes” and “Death.” The closing duo is probably the most reflective and uplifting Off with Their Heads have ever sounded. As the album closes with the optimistic looping guitar melodies of “Death” and the reassuring hymn-like vocals, hitting repeat seems to be the only logical option.
Keeping tradition with Off with Their Heads’ prior albums, Be Good
is a frickin' blast to listen to, as well as a noteworthy step forward for the band into a more intimate, open space. The vocals are still fierce and guttural as hell throughout the majority of the album. Yet, at times they take on a poignant, foreign approach that will have you listening a bit more intently. The guitar work is also as addicting as ever, adding that extra punch of melody to the excellent title track and “Trash It”, for example. After a six-year absence, Off with Their Heads could have basically released a carbon copy of their last album and I wouldn’t complain. Hell, I’d welcome the familiarity. Instead, we should consider ourselves lucky that Be Good
, though comforting, is full of small surprises and surpassed expectations. Containing all the grit of a Hot Water Music album with the added charm of The Menzingers, these batch of songs are a pure jolt of energy – the most potent writing of the band’s career.