88 Fingers Louie

Thank You For Being A Friend

Written by: PP on 23/08/2017 21:37:17

Depending on how deeply involved you're with the punk rock scene, the name 88 Fingers Louie may or may not ring a bell. They're a cult band within the heavier skate punk scene, having released a number of critically acclaimed albums throughout the 90s before disbanding in 1999. And which band formed off the ashes of 88 Fingers Louie back then, you ask? Rise Against, featuring guitarist Dan Wleklinski and bassist Joe Principe to release "The Unraveling". The rest is history. Since then, the band has performed sporadic, well-received reunion concerts but it's been nineteen years since their last full-length, "Back On The Streets" from 1998.

Fast-forward about two decades and here we are with a reunion album dubbed "Thank You For Being A Friend" with original members Denis Buckley (vocals) and Dan Wlekinski (guitar), as well as drummer John Carroll who has been with the group since 1998. You'd expect the years to take a toll on the band and have an impact sound-wise, but "Thank You For Being A Friend" essentially sounds like the 90s never went away and "Back On The Streets" was released just last year. Combining the melancholic nostalgia of No Use For A Name with the tight and depth-laden songwriting of Propagandhi, the band plays classic skate punk with a heavier edge before polished production took over. It's a clean, melodic sound, but one where autotune feels like a foreign planet as Buckley croons and wails through the songs in his characteristic, Tony Sly-inspired style.

Where most of the album sounds like NUFAN-lite, elsewhere the band delves right into the aggressive and technically advanced punk rock Propagandhi is known for. "Catastrophe Awaits" is probably the best example given its scaling guitars followed by explosive, hardcore-punk inspired verses. Incidentally, it's also where the band are at their best: depth-laden punk rock where melodies aren't so obvious, a bit like Hot Water Music who require tonnes of listening time before their brilliance starts rewarding the listener. "The Violence Of Denial" and "2810" fall into a similar category.

Yet this complexity ultimately ends up being their biggest hurdle. The melodies recall the good ol' 90s days but without sounding fresh, which Descendents were so exceptional at on "Hypercaffium Spazzinate" last year. So while Fat Wreck/Epitaph fans will find plenty to like here, the intellectually driven songwriting takes a toll on the listener and eventually makes "Thank You For Being A Friend" a difficult album to remember down the line. It's a thin line between genre classic and forgettable, and unfortunately 88 Fingers Louie lean more on the latter than the former.

Download: All The Right Words, Turned To Grey, Catastrophe Awaits
For the fans of: No Use For A Name, Propagandhi, 98 Mute, Antillectual, The Shell Corporation, Millencolin
Listen: Facebook

Release date 30.06.2017
Bird Attack Records

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