Reel Big Fish

Monkeys For Nothin' And The Chimps For Free

Written by: PP on 17/08/2007 14:13:06

Those returning readers that have been with us for the longest may recall my criticism of the previous Reel Big Fish album for being "too produced, and lacking the 'joy'-sound the previous albums had". A lot of this had to do with their unhappiness of their label (they were signed to a major, Jive Records), who didn't really understand the band nor how to promote the band. The negative emotions from that relationship surfaced on the album, and it just wasn't as big of a 'party' as the other Reel Big Fish albums had been to date. Needless to say, I was excited (the band was, too) when I heard that Jive dropped the band whilst they were on tour last year. And rightly so. Everything about the new album "Monkeys For Nothin' And The Chimps For Free" screams the Fish couldn't be happier to be standing on an independent label - the party is back, and it's back with a blast.

The lack of seriousness, the humor and the speed have all returned in one form or another on the new record. The band's really taking everything out of their new situation with no label-pressure or restrictions on what you can or cannot do. "Another F.U. Song", for example, starts with "Hey Kids! It's time to use the F word!", before Aaron proceeds to fit 'fuck' over forty times into the space of barely a minute. It's hilarious to entertain that the lyrics "fuck you the most, fuck you" might be geared towards Jive. "Everybody's Drunk" is likely to become a party-favorite with its lyrics "WE'RE ALL GONNA GET DRUNK! OH! WE'RE ALL GONNA GET DRUNK! OH WAIT WE'RE ALREADY...DRUUUUUNK!" idolizing binge-drinking culture. Can't imagine that would've been approved by Jive, either. The song finishes in people clinging pint-glasses together and a laughably angry voice complaining "Uh, actually, I'm not drunk. At all. No. I've gotta drive all these people home. Have a good time... assholes", before someone tries to throws up in a trash can which is nowhere to be found.. guess the rest.

Continuing on the slow songs, we have "Slow Down", a reggae-influenced ska song dedicated to those chill-out moments halves the speed down nicely. "Will The Revolution Come?" is similar style, placing plenty of focus on the horns to make the melody, leaving the guitar to be plucked gently giving the song some ska-relevance. "Please Don't Tell Her I Have A Girlfriend" even brings in some harmonica, making it sound like a slowed down Irish drinking song. "New Version Of You" and "My Imaginary Friend" remove all the punk influence and concentrate on ska-riffs and horns for the ska-purists.

What would a Fish album be without a cover song? Nothing, I tell you. This time it has been Phil Collins' turn to be ska-fied, as the band pimps up his classic "Another Day In Paradise" with horns and plenty of speed. Keeping that in mind, the band hasn't forgotten how to write awesome ska-punk either, "Party Down" being the prime example here. Flawless guitar melody and plenty of amusing vocal styles ranging from the girly-high to the rapper-low (you'll hear what I mean) guarantee it to be another party-favorite. "Live Your Dream", another speedy track, has a great guitar-explosion in the chorus, where the speed picks up from the verses. It's one of the few tracks where I could imagine a circle pit in a Fish concert. Tracks 12-16 are re-recordings from their faster record "Everything Sucks", giving the last third of the album a slightly nostalgic feel. But it's all good, because the classics sound even better with better recording.

In the end, Reel Big Fish is still writing ska/ska-punk songs about girlfriends and partying, spicing it up with enough humor to keep it joyful and enjoyable all the way through. Songs like "Everybody's Drunk" will surely become a sticking part of their awesome live show (or should I call it 'live party'?) in due time. There's no need to talk about artistic progression, because the fish still sound largely the same as they did ten years ago, but hey, as long as they keep their songs as fun as on this album, I don't mind.


Download: Everybody's Drunk, Another F.U. Song, Slow Down
For the fans of: Big D & The Kids Table, Less Than Jake, Voodoo Glow Skulls
Listen: Myspace

Release date 10.07.2007
Rock Ridge

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