Five Iron Frenzy
Our Newest Album Ever!
Sarabelum/5 Minute Walk
As a whole, I haven’t been impressed with the Christian ska bands I’ve heard. Most of them (especially the mega-popular Supertones) have sounded pretty weak, and while I don’t begrudge anyone the right to worship whatever deity they choose, I don’t appreciate being hit over the head with someone else’s beliefs. That’s why I was caught completely off-guard by Five Iron Frenzy’s Our Newest Album Ever! FIF are one of the best-known Christian ska bands around, and I was prepared for more of the same old boring (to me) Christian rhetoric over weak horns and sloppy rhythms. Boy, was I ever wrong! This Album is extremely well-played, and so infernally catchy that I’d almost think that FIF were secretly playing for the other team!
One thing that struck me about FIF almost immediately is that the band has an emo quality on a lot of the songs. Tracks like “Blue Comb ’78,” on which singer Reese Roper laments losing his blue comb on a cross-country trip as “the last great symbol of my youth,” surely have great crossover potential for the emo crowd. Roper’s distinctive, high-pitched vocals are well to the emo style, too. That style gives them an edge on their preachier tunes, like “Suckerpunch,” “Every New Day,” and “Banner Year.” These tracks slip in the band’s Christian message, but do in a way that’s so subtle and catchy that you won’t catch on until you absentmindedly start to sing along. In addition to the emo-esque stuff, there’s a whole lot of good, old fashioned, fun ska-punk with some really amusing lyrics. “Handbook for the Sellout,” is a real standout, taking the sellout shouters to task (“Did you think the word ‘alternative’ was just for you?”). “Superpowers” is equally as entertaining, as they sing about the “joys” of touring (“Everyone in the band can’t stand me, just because I fell off the stage, and kind of by accident, I broke the promoter’s legs”). For me, though, the real prize winner is “Oh, Canada,” an ode to the Great White North and all things Canuck that even has a horn riff snatched from the Canadian National Anthem. The Mackenzie Brothers would approve, eh?
My first thought when I was trying to sum up this record was “it’s really not a bad little record,” but then I realized that was really insulting. Five Iron Frenzy don’t deserve to suffer for my misconceptions about them. Our Newest Album Ever! is a really good record, and is well worth picking up. I know I’ll be heading out to see them next time they hit my town! Sarabellum/5 Minute Walk Records, 2056 Commerce Ave., Concord, CA 94520; http://www.5minutewalk.com.