Friday, April 17, 2009

Reel Big Fish - Monkeys for Nothing & the Chimps for Free (2007)

If you don't know Reel Big Fish, you didn't listen to the radio in 1997. Their mega-hit "Sell Out" smashed through mainstream playlists and blazed the train for the 3rd Wave punk-ska breakout of the late 90's. They followed that up with a decade of constant touring, honing their stage performances to near perfection, but I've always felt disappointed by their studio catalog since Turn the Radio Off. Their subsequent albums always felt tired, uninspired, formulaic and oddly flavored with more and more hardrock/metal. But after being dropped from Jive Records, Reel Big Fish turned it around with the 2007 Monkeys for Nothing & The Chimps for Free, which I would venture to call their best effort since Turn the Radio Off.

First and foremost this album is fun to listen to. Most tracks are quick, upbeat and have that effortlessly fresh sound that makes ska so fun. The crisp horn riffs, engaging vocals, hectic tempos and "snarky" lyrics that made Reel Big Fish world famous fly out of every track. And as every veteran act does eventually, RBF expands their style a little and ventures into some new territory on a few tracks. The harder, darker and more mature songs sound authentic and work really well here. The laid-back and chill songs feel forced and entirely miss the mark. The standout tracks come in an epic fan service that especially puts a smile on my face when RBF covers and slightly updates "Call Her" and "Hate You", two fan-favorites from their pre-breakout era.

Monkeys does have flow, but isn't bullet-proof as some tracks feel out of place and break up the overall experience. Also the trademark irreverence and "sillyness" critics love to praise RBF for venture into the sophomoric and mornic on occasion here. However, that shouldn't stop die-hard fans and newbies alike from jumping headfirst into Monkeys for Nothing & The Chimps for Free, Reel Big Fish's best studio work in a long time and the spiritual successor to Turn The Radio Off.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

booze on your breath always makes girls horny/so come on boys lets chug a few
I'll allow it
--Dub C