Five Iron Frenzy
Until This Shakes Apart


4.0
excellent

Review

by TreblinkAlive USER (4 Reviews)
January 25th, 2021 | 16 replies


Release Date: 01/15/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Still trying to save the world on Colfax and Broadway.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Bernard Shaw

Five Iron Frenzy burst into the Christian music market in ’97, with a debut that begins on a track dedicated to condemning manifest destiny and the American treatment of indigenous peoples, followed by a track about Reese Roper’s difficulty effecting any meaningful change as long as he’s stuck, broke in Denver, Colorado. The rest of the album was filled with the silly ska-punk and Christian sentiment that would become the recognizable expectations fans have for the band. With this unique blend of pop-punk, ska and unpredictable lyrics, they never found themselves outside of the embrace of Christian music fans, especially younger ones. I remember my loyalty to them in middle school being such that, when my older brother broke up with a woman who thought they were “weird,” not knowing of his other reasons, I thought “Good, that makes perfect sense.” Each release was a cause for celebration, and I’d get to know each song well through playlists my brother would form to fit his mood. That loyalty among young Christians could change with the release of Until This Shakes Out.

This album is Reese Roper’s thesis to the American Church, unapologetically outlining the ways in which he feels it has gone astray: its treatment of the poor, its treatment of LBGTQ-identifying individuals, its treatment of workers, its treatment of women, etc. The target audience of his anger is never unclear. When damning our treatment of immigrants at the border, he asserts that “You were once a stranger on this soil. Serpents at your heart, will they now uncoil? Your brother's at the door - bless the poor in spirit. Your sister's in a cage - but you do not fear it.” He’s not just aiming his ire at the Conservative party in America, but the evangelical Christians who empower it and are empowered through it. This is followed up with the second track, Lonesome for Her Heroes, a lamentation for his ever-changing city of Denver, as it undergoes gentrification. In While Supplies Last Roper concentrates the most anger of any song on the album, decrying the hypocrisy of leaders who minimized the COVID crisis while evidently taking precautions for themselves and their families. On this track, among other call-outs, he explicitly notes how damaging the pro-life movement is, an extreme risk for the band that constituted the soundtrack of so many Christian's summers. In Wildcat, the focus of the song is a working-class character who abandons their hometown and principles to work for an unethical oil company. The lyrics apply Christian notions of forgiveness and imperfection to show this character compassion – reserving his poison for the billionaires who run the company, aligning his posture with the mantra of the late leftist commentator Michael Brooks, “Be easy on the individual, be hard on the system.”

Sonically, the album is an improvement over and departure from Engine of a Million Plots, seven years prior. Until This Shakes Apart, like Engines before it, is a comeback album. On Engines the sound was heavily guitar-oriented and was akin to a quasi-hard rock album with horns. This time, however, they opt for a return to some of their ska influence, with the backbeat being emphasized in a few tracks. Beyond this, pop-punk is once again heavily present, with Auld Lainxiety feeling like a complete return to form. Other highlights include the opener, In Through The Out Door, which sounds much like a carry over from Engines, but punchier with heavier horn involvement, and Wildcat, a windows down pop-punk track you’ll want to play on repeat. No tracks have yet earned their place as a “skip” track, and the album feels like it forms a cohesive whole that can be enjoyably listened to from beginning to end. If Engines of a Million Plots was one aural branch Five Iron could have followed after The End is Near, Until This Shakes Apart is another branch out from the latter, rather than a clean continuation of Engines.

With this album, Reese Roper makes it clear that he intends to be Shaw’s unreasonable man. Whether or not he can save the world, he can be a voice for the oppressed and disenfranchised. His position as a well-known Christian artist serves as both his greatest obstacle and the place from which he can most directly make contact with those his message rubs up against. I hope that on one of my trips to the nearby city of Denver, I can catch Roper going about his business, and I can let him know that Denver isn’t so lonesome for heroes if he sticks around.


user ratings (12)
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
TreblinkAlive
January 25th 2021


47 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

If someone could let me know if there's a way to edit a review, I caught a few things I didn't catch before posting it. For instance "LGBTQ women" should just be "people who identify as LGBTQ." I also messed up italics in a few places. I did some dumb things.



Never mind. Got it.

Navifett
January 25th 2021


1 Comments


Well written as always! I think whether someone is a fan of ska or not, this album deserves praise for its willingness to stand against the Christian system that brought them success to begin with.

Lucman
January 27th 2021


5337 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Never been really big on these guys but this is solid. Good review. Glad these guys are taking a stand against the more corrupt morals of Christianity/the church

Digging: CHVRCHES - Screen Violence

gschwen
January 27th 2021


629 Comments


I've been a casual fan of the band, and in particular love Electric Boogaloo. Engine and Between the Pavement were also really good.

This record is a total let down. I've listened to it twice, but I'm squeezing blood from a stone trying to enjoy it. It's not catchy or memorable.

Project
January 27th 2021


5154 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I completely forgot these guys had another one coming, can't wait to listen. Pos'd

Digging: CHVRCHES - Screen Violence

madrigal30
January 27th 2021


1317 Comments


nice review, never heard them before but this album rocks

Digging: Wasted Space - exsanguination

gryndstone
January 27th 2021


2132 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Also first time i've heard of the band but echoing the sentiments that its pretty rad for a punk ska band to go back and heavily criticize the christian scene from whence they came

SublimeSound
January 27th 2021


40 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Getting some pretty heavy Fishbone vibes from this, which I intend to be a big compliment.



Very good write up - glad you published this, otherwise this would've flown completely under my radar.

TreblinkAlive
January 27th 2021


47 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks so much for the kind words, folks. Never heard of Fishbone before; I'll definitely have to give them a listen. gschwen, sorry it's not working for you. YMMV but I did find it significantly more catchy after multiple spins.

Project
January 27th 2021


5154 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

hmmm man I really liked parts of this but there are lots of issues with this album, which kills me to admit as a FIF fan



pros: lyrics are razor-sharp, Huerfano is fantastic

cons: FIF is at their best when they're at high energy and way too many of these songs are pretty midtempo. Lyrics are so sharp they're a little on the nose. The mix feels muddy except for the crystal clear horns, and Reese of course -- which saps a lot of the intensity that the lyrics are begging for.

TreblinkAlive
January 27th 2021


47 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fair take! Those mid-tempo songs were a big portion of what I was referring to in an above comment about the album growing on me. No doubt, feeling the lyrics helped with that and encouraged me to listen to those songs multiple times. I agree they can be a bit on the nose, but I don't know that I'd have wanted much subtlety from them on an album like this. I also enjoy IDLES' political lyrics though, and they're very divisive among fans for how on the nose they are, so it may just be something particularly up some people's alleys.

dmathias52
Contributing Reviewer
January 27th 2021


1584 Comments


I never got much into Five Iron Frenzy during my Christian rock phase except for a song from “The End is Near” - On Distant Shores, I believe?

You made me really want to check this album though. Very curious and excited about the lyrical content. Great review!

Lord(e)Po)))ts
January 28th 2021


67112 Comments


Worst band name I've seen in a minute

parksungjoon
January 28th 2021


35802 Comments


name feels more hard rock than punk/ska to me tbh

Digging: Controlled Bleeding - Distress Signals

darkbunny
January 28th 2021


146 Comments


Holy shit new FIF in 2021? God damn. These guys were one of my favorite bands in junior high fucking 15 years ago.

Kinda hype to check this out just out of curiosity.

Digging: Trophy Scars - Astral Pariah

Project
January 29th 2021


5154 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"Worst band name I've seen in a minute"



I genuinely don't think any band name can be worse than Family Force 5



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