Get Nice!

Written by: TL on 25/01/2012 21:15:58

If reliability is a trait you value in bands, one of the best bands you could possibly follow would arguably be Zebrahead. The Californian quintet has been around for a solid 16 years of existence, over the course of which they have managed eight previous records of consistent, quality pop-punk, made special by the band's trademark rapping, courtesy of frontman Ali Tabatabaee. Moreover, judging from the couple of times I've seen them live, they are also the one band that pops into mind, whenever I have to think of somebody who really appreciates the privilige and responsibility it is to be in a position to entertain an audience.

That being said, coming into "Get Nice!", the band's ninth LP, I think all but the most ardent followers are starting to ask themselves if Zebrahead can really stay interesting, especially considering how they have barely changed anything at all with their sound over the time I've been listening to them - which would be since 2003's "MFZB". Should you never have heard them, they sound like a slightly brighter Sum 41, complete with the tendency of letting drops of metallic elements into their music as time has made them better players, plus a dual-vocal onslaught from Tabatabaee's rapping and the singing of guitarist/singer Matty Lewis.

And indeed, listening to "Get Nice!", barely a thing has changed. Except for you hearing here and there that Lewis and fellow guitar player Greg Bergdorf have gotten better and hence contribute slightly more complex riffs and solos, it still sounds very stubbornly set in the sunny pop-punk break-through years around the turn of the millenia. If you're a fan of the "if it ain't broken"-approach, then this is awesome. If you're like me, and look forward to records mostly based on the expectations of "wonder what they're going to come up with now", then "Get Nice!" is probably going to further the process in your mind that's leading you toward thinking that Zebrahead are relevant only as a live band and no more as a recording band.

Everything is just so predictably heard before from these guys, and at fourteen tracks, the disc quickly starts feeling long in the teeth, what with the catchy hooks being somewhat less of a force than we're used to from Zebrahead. And then one comes around, like in the almost annoyingly catchy "She Don't Wanna Rock", we're close to a Bowling For Soup-level of comedy punk in the lyrics department, and I'm not sure I don't think that's a bit of a step down for the band, even if they were never the most serious of groups.

Towards the end, "Kiss Your Ass Goodbye" and "This Is Gonna Hurt You Way More Than It's Gonna Hurt Me" provide a few moments I feel like I can really get behind, but the problem is that each time I've listened to this record, it's been a flat out struggle for me to keep it on long enough to make it to these songs. Maybe time has finally moved fully beyond the rap-core/pop-punk of Zebrahead's glory days, or maybe I've just grown out of them. The fact is that even the many little moments where you can trace influence from the many punk bands Zebrahead are likely inspired by, aren't enough to keep me interested the way I was back on "Zebrahead". Conclusion: I think Mr. Petteri 'I don't want bands to change. Ever.' Pertola should probably take over our Zebrahead coverage starting with their next album.


Download: This Is Gonna Hurt You Way More Than It's Going To Hurt Me, Kiss Your Ass Goodbye, She Don't Wanna Rock
For The Fans Of: Sum 41, Bowling For Soup, The Offspring
Listen: facebook.com/Zebrahead

Release Date 27.07.2011
MFZB / 3Wise


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