Fans of Orange County Californians Reel Big Fish will surely know what to expect from the band’s releases by now. The ska-punk outfit are renowned for their flamboyant, relentlessly cheery, grab-a-beer-and-get-your-dancing-shoes-on style, albeit if fans haven’t had much new material to go on over the last six years (other than a Christmas themed EP back in 2014).
But now, here to break that run of silence is the band’s ninth studio album, aptly titled ‘Life Sucks… Let’s Dance!’. It’s a record that’s typically Reel Big Fish; both joyous, and much like everything else the band has ever put out.
It’s difficult and perhaps unfair to expect the group produce anything other than songs that sound similar to the rest of their discography though. It’s what the group are loved for and what fans come to expect. It just wouldn’t be right if they released a metalcore record, right?
While this effort starts off consistently all well and good, come the end of the record at the point of the 40-minute mark, your attention span struggles to register what was different about the last ten tracks you just heard – because they’re all just similar whacky, horn-filled moments of fun, and that’s that.
With that mini-moan over, moments like the title-track, ‘You Can’t Have All Of Me’, ‘Another Beer Song’, and ‘Ska Show’ are irresistibly wonderfully, feel-good bops. Just listening to them throws you right back to the Fireball Stage at Slam Dunk, getting drunk on warm lager, and stupidly skanking along to bubbly ska tracks all night long.
That’s what this album delivers on: musical positivity through fun-soaked rhythms. Lyrical themes are the same, while some tracks may seem to be tinged with downbeat lyrics like ‘Pissed Off’ or the title-track, the relentless positivity of the instrumental sounds behind them brighten them significantly. Of course, the sillier lines can’t be ignored, like “She wears her hair like the fourth of July / Rockets explode behind my fly”, or the entirety of ‘Bob Marley’s Toe’. It’s standardly goofy, and just what fans would’ve want after six years album-less.
Reel Big Fish aren’t genre-blurring musical world-changers, but what they are good at is producing giddy, bouncy tunes that evoke a feeling of summer sunshine onto even the darkest of hearts. ‘Life Sucks… Let’s Dance!’ is just another example of that.
Writer for DEAD PRESS! | Literature undergrad with a love for all things punk | Often found sipping on coffee or craft beer, whilst attempting to write some words.