I know it doesn’t come across so much in my writing on CC2K (because I never review albums I don’t like or am even lukewarm on) but I am way more cynical when it comes to old bands. Honestly, when a band that I have listened to for years releases an album, I hold my breath and cringe. More often than not, I am disappointed; usually they are trying too hard to capture a sound that used to be organic, which is totally heartbreaking. Or their sound has changed so drastically that I am not into them anymore, which though is a bummer, is cool because they are growing and doing what they want artistically.
So, Less Than Jake came out with a new album. I was never super into ska, but I always liked Less Than Jake and History of a Boring Town was an anthem to any 16 year old who just got their license was counting down the days until graduation. (And since I was so that girl, Less Than Jake holds a nostalgic piece of my heart.) Yeah, so with bated breath I hit play on this album– and holy shit. See The Light is awesome. Fucking awesome. It is a killer blend of ska, punk, melody, introspection, and one good fucking time.
The songs on See The Light are super catchy yet not as danceable as past Less Than Jake releases, but the major strength of this album is that the lyrics are identifiable and poignant. These tracks all most definitely sound like Less Than Jake but with a fresh twist, they are songs that old fans will love and that can inspire a whole new generation of ska fans.
See The Light opens up with Good Enough, which is a totally fun song, and man, it only goes up from there. There are so many great hooks and sing along choruses. My Money is on the Long Shot is super catchy, Bless the Cracks has a great beat and gritty attitude, American Idle has a ska/rock vibe, The Troubles is a pretty cool subdued track, and John the Baptist Bones is super ska. The album has a really great rise and fall, it begins with super high energy tracks, progressively slows down with the, Give Me Something to Believe In and Sunstroke before ramping the energy back up for the last two tracks, A Short History Lessonand Weekends All Year Long.
As I said before, this album is the lyrics. The lyrics walk this cool line where they can be identifiable to teenagers who are imagining their whole lives ahead of them while also resonating somewhere deep inside us old punks. The Long Shot causes us to pause for a second as it poses the question, “If you knew the future of / Exactly what lies ahead / Would you change a bit or still let it lead you by the wrist” and Jump resonates at least a little bit in all of us who were young and invincible at one point, “Remember when you had all the answers? / Nothing else even mattered…You didn’t need to be told / What to believe…And you never say never / But it’s the truth, you didn’t know / Between the now and what’s unknown”. American Idle is like the sequel to History of a Boring Town, the sound is more mature, the point of view is adult, “We were the kids from the cul-de-sacs / That got out somehow without looking back / … We were the ones that grew up too fast / On the front porch steps when we still had friends / … These memories will fade / So we always keep them locked away / … We slowly replace / The pieces we left in yesterday”. The Loudest Songs echo some things that I hold very true, “I told stories / A steady stream of songs / About summer, my surrender, and where I belong / Best friends that have come and gone / They left me / …Do you really think summer can save us? / Do you think the loudest songs can be the cure? / I believe it’s possible that words and chords can make us strong / And make you feel alive, the loudest songs”
See The Light is one of those albums that every time I listen to it I pick a new favorite track. My picks at the time of editing this are Jump for the awesome lyrics and super hooky chorus, Bless The Cracks for it’s catchy grittiness, and American Idle for its spot on lyrics.