Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Review: NOFX – First Ditch Effort

The last ten years have seen a generation of punk bands feel the need to grow up. Green Day went political while Blink-182 started talking about their feelings and quite frankly we could have done without both. It’s easy to speak seriously but to take a style of music that works better with a sneer of childish aggression and make it adult is a lot tougher. Which is why these words will fill many with terror; First Ditch Effort is an album about NOFX dealing with getting old.

But panic not! For even if Fat Mike and co are looking back at their lives and pondering, their heads have stayed far away from their arses. Which should be clear the second ‘6 Years On Dope’ whacks you across the face. It’s one and a half minutes of punk rock gold with Fat Mike and Eric Melvin giving it everything on the vocals and it is NOFX at their best.

Which is a best that they capture quite a few times on this album. ‘I Don’t Like Me Anymore’ is Fat Mike’s crowning moment while ‘I’m a Tranvest-lite’ somehow manages to be a call to arms about not giving a fuck about other people’s opinions despite having lyrics about dying your pubes pink. When NOFX are on form, they are still that wonderfully blasé punk rock band who genuinely don’t care what you, I or anyone else thinks.

nofx_2016_joe_leonard-jpgThe problem is that they now struggle to keep that up for a full album. For every ‘Oxy Moronic’, with its undercutting of the American pharmaceutical industry, there is a ‘Sid and Nancy’ which is just there. Filling in the time but doing nothing to remind you of the brilliant punk rock band playing it. It’s okay, though, because as you listen to the bittersweet harmonies and scathing lyrics on the Minor Threat inspired ‘Happy Father’s Day’, it is easy to forget those moments of mediocrity.

NOFX have aged better than 99% of their peers, and that makes it quite easy to dismiss them. To pat them on the head and say well done for still trying lads. Quite frankly, they deserve more than that. This album proves that they still have the fire that made them the band they are and if they can get their hands on that and expand it to a whole album they could be great again. As it stands, this is half way to perfection, and that’s more than enough for most.

Stuart Iversen
Stuart Iversen
With a Masters in Journalism and a love of all things heavy, I am basically spending my life trying to find work to fund my music habit, the more the two overlap the better.

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