Less Than Jake

GNV FLA

Written by: PP on 17/08/2008 15:26:45

After 2006's terrible "In With The Out Crowd", many people were wondering if that was it for Less Than Jake. With only a couple of decent songs and almost not a single one referring to their much loved ska-punk sound on all previous albums, the album represented yet another step in a large trend where awesome indie bands are signed to major labels and consequently introduce not-so-subtle changes to their sound that aren't taken kindly to by their fanbase. Fortunately, Less Than Jake parted ways with their label after releasing just one album with them (for obvious reasons), and are now back on an indie label, which shows in the form of a massive improvement and return to form. "GNV FLA" (short for Gainesville, Florida) is their seventh album, which is a respectable feat for any band, but what's even more respectable is that the band's still rocking out like they were in their 20s.

Lets start with the album opener "City Of Gainesville". It's under two minutes long, but the relaxed ska-beat and nice horn section already showcase that the band is back to their much loved selves on this record. As the ska-beat explodes directly into the mid 90s NOFX-style punk rocker "City Of Gainesville", the idea that Less Than Jake are back for good becomes a proven fact. The ska-breakdown (instead of heaviness you get a ska-beat) and the chorus "too much too soon too little too late" is great and will have you singing along for weeks, that is until you reach "Does The Lion City Still Roar?", which is even catchier and more melodic. Parallels are being drawn to Reel Big Fish and to Less Than Jake's 90s material everywhere - fans of the band will know what that means: awesome fun and untouchable sense of melody is to be expected.

When the band continues on the path of infectious choruses met by an equally infectious horn section on "Summon Monsters", "Abandon Ship", "Handshake Meet Poker Face" and "Settling Son" for the next four tracks, "GNV FLA" is starting to look more and more like the direct opposite of "In With The Out Crowd". Where the latter seemed to have no recognizable climax, "GNV FLA" seems to have nothing but highlights from start to finish. Take a listen to "Golden Age Of My Negative Ways", which sounds much like "Losing Streak"-era LTJ (my favorite LTJ record), or "Conviction Notice", which is as signature ska-LTJ as it gets, and if you can still say you aren't in love with this band, then you need to get your ears checked.

While some critics are inevitably going to describe the (welcome) return to their old sound as succumbing to fan pressure, I choose to applaud the band for understanding their strengths: infectious choruses, ultra-melodic power-chord infused punk rock, and fun, danceable/skunkable sounds that work equally well as party starters as they do for active listening sessions. While "GNV FLA" doesn't have the same innocent energy of a young band as "Hello Rockview" and "Losing Streak" (both ska punk classics), most notably audible in Chris Demakes' slightly dimmer and sorer vocals, it's still up there able to compete on even foot with the classics. As years go by, "GNV FLA" will surely be remembered as one of the classic LTJ albums to own.

Download: Devil In My DNA, Golden Age Of My Negative Ways, Does The Lion City Still Roar?
For the fans of: Reel Big Fish, NOFX, Goldfinger
Listen: Myspace

Release date 24.06.2008
Sleep It Off Records

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