Catch 22

Permanent Revolution

Written by: PP on 22/07/2006 00:43:12

Most people who know anything about ska punk recognize the name Catch 22 immediately, as their debut album "Keasbey Nights" is considered to be the best ska punk album ever produced by critics and fans alike. But long has gone since the New Jersey band's 1998 album that revolutionized the scene and paved the way for bands like Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake to reach far wider audiences than just those of the south-west/east coast states. The recent developments in Juventus and Catch 22's lineups have had an unfortunate amount in common, but with "Permanent Revolution" it seems like Catch 22 is back on track, albeit sounding like an entirely different band than what we're used to in the past.

"Permanent Revolution" is a concept album from the absolute top end of the greatest concept albums in the world. It documents the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky's life and his part in, and in the development, of the Russian revolution(s) in a curiously intricate way. The readers with vast history knowledge will immediately recognize that the title "Permanent Revolution" is also the title of Trotsky's breakthrough book, which laid out the principles of Marxism and how success can only be achieved by permanent revolution by the proletariat across the world. Anyone who has studied history will know how that ended up, and all of the struggles and upsides of Trotsky's life are incredibly well recorded in the chronologically ordered songs. For instance, "The Party Song (1917)" lays out Trotsky's main principles of permanent socialist revolution in an almost silly, yet somehow sophisticated manner cyphered deep below the surface of the lyrics. "On The Black Sea (1924)" is a tragic story about how Trotsky's mentor (Lenin) dies near The Black Sea, discussing Trotsky's feelings for his great teacher. "The Bad Party (1927)" shows that Catch 22 did some thorough research for the album, as it documents the internal conflicts within the Bolshevik party unbeliavably accurately for a ska punk band. Similarly "Opportunity (1940)" cleverly records how Trotsky was assassinated in Mexico by an undercover Soviet agent, and dwells around the events of 1940 before "Epilogue" closes the album.

Stylistically, the horns have been brought back to the spotlight from their relative absence in the past couple of albums. They add drama and extra layers to many of the songs which otherwise would suffer from instrumental simplicity, and provide the much needed credibility for an effort as ellaborate as this. On other songs, where they are more absent, the guitar lines and vocal harmonies are much more complicated, compensating for the occasionally missed horns. Soon after you realize how impeccably the balance has been thought out, and you couldn't possibly imagine it being any other way. Similarly, the pace has been remarkably cut down from the past Catch 22 albums, and many more acoustic/semi-acoustic songs have been introduced to the set, but everything works perfectly for the themes laid out in the album so it doesn't bother you at all.

Overall, "Permanent Revolution" is one of the most ambitious efforts the modern music industry has seen, and what's even more beautiful about it, is that it succeeds 110% in it's objective. The concept is stunningly intriguing and it engages you to think about the lyrics and their true meaning. It is highly recommended to have open the Wikipedia page about Leon Trotsky while listening to the album in order to get the most ouf of it, and thus it isn't truly suitable for people who don't bear much interest for history. Perhaps it isn't "Keasbey Nights", but in terms of concept albums it is one of the best ones ever recorded. Intellectuals only!

Download: Prologue, The Spark (1902) [chronological order necessary]
For the fans of: RX Bandits, Sublime, Mad Caddies, Reel Big Fish
Listen: Myspace

Release date 27.06.2006

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