ALBUM REVIEW: NOFX & Frank Turner – West Coast Vs. Wessex

Release Date: July 31st 2020
Label: Fat Wreck Chords
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Folk and punk music have always been sweaty forehead to sweaty forehead in the industry, dabbing their brilliance with the backs of musty towels and swaying together, content in their alliance.

‘West Coast Vs. Wessex’, the lovechild of NOFX and Frank Turner, is a tireless example of the genres’ true spirit: a split catalogue of fan favourites, revisited in a slightly different character than their originals.

Punk veterans NOFX rinse dry a selection of Turner‘s releases in the first half of the record, all gutsy and driven by throttling beats typical to their approach. ‘Thatcher Fucked The Kids’ is jumpy and thick with experienced grit, but there’s just something missing, something that can only be celebrated in the hardened consonants of Turner‘s British vocal spills.

The shove of guitars in ‘Substitute’ is more pop-punk than expected, something more in the vein of Bowling For Soup, and while the band accentuates the attitude of the original here, a lot of the personability is detracted from as a result. It feels very showy.

Turner, on the other hand, is raw from his very introduction in ‘Scavenger Type’ as he scratches an energy across the track that is patented to his ballsy British roots. Each offering on the second half here feels more confident than the first; Turner seems to explore the way in which he revisits NOFX‘s tracks to a heftier degree than the American outfit. There is simply more flavour in his covers.

‘Eat The Meek’ feels more dismal, yet Turner is still able to trickle some tonal guitars in here and there that cement the strength of his contributions. Where ‘Ballad Of Me And My Friends’ comes across a little more amp than substance, a little too similar to those that jab on either side of it, ‘Perfect Government’ is jovial, rough around the edges, approachable.

Whether the strength of the Wessex portion of this album is attributable to the personality in Fat Mike‘s (NOFX) songwriting, or the rugged, gorgeously uncouth way in which Turner reroutes pretty much every element served to him, it’s hard to deny that both sides of ‘West Coast Vs. Wessex’ are pretty cool listens regardless.

Does it completely redefine the genres involved? No, but it provides a great deal of nostalgia and a space for fans of NOFX and Frank Turner alike to form a brotherhood. You can’t really ask for much more from a release that offers no entirely new content, so why knock it?