See the LightFat Wreck Chords
By Dustin Blumhagen
The very second the horns begin on the new Less Than Jake album, listeners are in for a treat. The upbeat ska punk songs sound happily familiar, a welcome nod to the past. One of the few bands that survived the rapid rise and crashing fall of the third wave of ska, Less Than Jake have managed to stretch the boundaries of their genre, blending punk and ska to create a sound that is all their own. This is a welcome throwback to their horn heavy classic releases, like their debut Pezcore.
The songs on See the Light are short and snappy. Lead track Good Enough begins with a catchy horn prelude, which moves into a bouncy track that sets the tone for the entire album. While ska music lends itself to upbeat, happy music, Less Than Jake have focused the positivity in their lyrics this time around. These are not goofy throwaway lyrics that weighed down the genre back in the 90s, these are simple, yet effective relatable lyrics. Some of the songs lean more toward one genre than the other. They focus on their punk roots on Bless the Cracks and Sunstroke, then slow things down to an easy stroll on Give Me Something to Believe In, Inc. The vocals are pushed comfortably to the front of the mix, but are supported by the rhythm section and horns. No one hogs the spotlight, which shows the maturity of the band.
Aging punks, well into their 30s, will listen to this release with a heavy dose of nostalgia. That being said, the music isn’t dated; it bounces along with a comfortable blend of maturity and youthful energy. While Less Than Jake has not been idle, this is noticeably their strongest release in this century. They have distilled their sound into a blend of pop punk and third wave ska, with little unnecessary filler to be found. These tracks are fun, which is something that isn’t apparent in a lot of music these days. With the exception of the criminally underrated We Are the Union, nobody has managed to blend these genres as well as Less Than Jake. The guys have celebrated the musical niche that they carved out and fans are lucky enough to reap the worthy rewards.
This is a much anticipated release and well worth the wait. The band themselves say it best with their lyrics, I believe it’s possible that words and chords can make us strong/ And make you feel alive, the loudest songs.