Less Than Jake - 'Silver Linings' Album Review
1. The High Cost Of Low Living
2. Lie To Me
3. Keep On Chasing
4. Anytime And Anywhere
5. The Test
6. Dear Me
7. Monkey Wrench Myself
8. King Of The Downside
9. Lost at Home
12. So Much Less
Less Than Jake have been with me since I was 16 years old. They've also helped me from being a lost teenager, to learning more about Ska-Punk, Rock and Pop-Punk than any other band probably did. In short they shaped me in my most influential years.
For a number of years I touted them as my favourite band, searching high and low in the days before Spotify and ebay for any material different to what I already owned, I learnt songs by them on guitar, (although one of my oldest friends, who passed away this year sadly, always jokingly stated I was playing them wrong) and they're the band I've probably seen the most in my lifetime, even standing side stage on one occasion.
Fast forward 20 years, and I'm sat at a PC, with one of their albums playing, staring at a word document, attempting not to play Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2. Nothing has really changed.
Apart from of course the album, this, the new offering from the band 'Silver Linings' is unabashed classic Less Than Jake from start to end.
'The High Cost Of Low Living' opens the album and sets off the album like any Less Than Jake album, it's fun, it's punky, there's horns and it flows effortlessly and the positivity is felt from track one.
'Lie To Me' is Less Than Jake at their best, horns dancing around a gorgeous guitar and bass line from Chris and Roger and feels ready to slot into live sets (whenever that may be again) with a classic breakdown solo guitar riff that echoes everything they've done from 'Losing Streak' through to 'Sound The Alarm'.
'Keep On Chasing' is a Chris led track with some lovely harmonics giving way to the verse. The key change sets it apart from being a forgettable track especially when Roger lends some harmonies into the chorus.
'Anytime And Anywhere' is as bouncy and fun as the bass and horns allow it to be. It's Less Than Jake in a nutshell and after a few listens you'll be singing along.
'The Test' changes things up slightly, starting off in the minor key and sounding a little more menacing, but the horns, the guitar work and bass is as solid as always, led more by a trombone line solo line as opposed to joint horns, it changes things up just enough so the album doesn’t go stale. The band have a real knack for this from album tracks such as 'Does The Lion Still Roar' being a great example of changing the flavour of the album just to give you a kick.
'Dear Me' is what I'd say is the punkiest track so far on the album. Pulling the horns back a touch and letting the drums and bass drive the song along at least till the middle 8 which has a tonally appropriate horn break. It's not my favourite song on first listen, but within the album it adds another change of pace and the fade out on the ending is rarely used by the band so something I definitely picked up on.
'Monkey Wrench Myself' is the combination of what's come previously, horns and punky bass lines give way to a bouncy bass and Ska guitar that is quintessential Ska-Punk. Live I can feel the circle pit, and then the waving of the arms as the track concludes.
'King Of The Downside' changes things up again, mid-paced and almost guaranteed to get people shouting "Hey" with Roger during each break in the horns while jumping around. (If this doesn't happen then I honestly think this year has broken everyone).
'Lost At Home' slows things down to the Reggae Ska that the band have perfected in recent albums. the beauty of the track is instant and forces you to take a second and enjoy the world around you.
'Move' is my personal weakest track on the album, it digs back to tracks from 'In With The Out Crowd' and isn't to my own personal taste. It's still a fine track, and sits well on the album.
'Bill' starts off with a call-back to older albums, being named after a person, but instead of focusing on that person and the idiosyncrasies, it acts like a letter to a mentor and friend. It's more serious a song than the songs we used to get like this, and it's better for it. A really strong track.
'So Much Less' closes the album with a total change of pace again, sounding like an old Bosstones melody, but in a truly LTJ way. The horn and guitars match up well here and the Sax solo in the middle is a gorgeous bit of playing that is
I've not really said a lot about the drumming here, as it's the first full album with new drummer Matt Yonker, and that is definitely not a negative thing. He fits in perfectly, driving the band through excellent work without over-complicating matters. There's some nice flourishes throughout and will likely put his stamp on his role in the band as the years move forward.
Lyrically the album feels like a loose set of love letters, diary entries and posters of positive cats on the wall. There's always an up-side for each track, even when it deals with heartbreak, lost friendships and disdain for technology. Not politically charged for a second, it's an album that feels more personal than previous albums, but you can still sing along to and enjoy just the same.
It's Less Than Jake going through the back catalogue, grinding up some of it's best elements and then rolling it up in a two skin of positivity for you to sit back and enjoy. In 2020, it's refreshing they can still deliver when the world around them is on fire.
Stand out tracks – Lie To Me, Monkey Wrench Myself, Bill
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Review - Old Williams