May 1, 2003

Test Spin: No Fun At All

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Initially, there was going to be a joke about “moderatecore punk” in this test spin. This scheme was foiled by recently acquired knowledge that tells us No Fun At All formed in Skinnskatteberg, Sweden. My familiarity with Swedish music may be deficient in some ways, but I do know that stuff from Sweden is generally hardcore. This is a relief as the music would insinuate otherwise.

NFAA held the peculiar “honor” of being known as The Offspring of Sweden until their dissolution at the end of the decade. Like The Offspring and Epitpah Records, NFAA helped their struggling label, Burning Heart, garner acclaim as the home of The Hives, 59 Times the Pain, and Millencolin. This best-of compilation was assembled by “the fans,” and, having no familiarity with the band, I will have to take their word for it. Master Celebrations achieves its most inspired moments when it dispels its punk inclinations and brings its formidable melodies to the forefront. While I enjoy embittered dissonance as much as the next content, wealthy student, NFAA never quite accomplishes the rapidity and bravado they seem to be striving for. There are times, as on “Strong and Smart” and “Beachparty,” when the tempo outpaces the band’s ability to keep up with it. This results in a weathered clutter that is probably unintentional, but is nevertheless loud, fast, disorganized, and sublimely raucous. While these sudden paroxysms of incompetence are exceptions, they also demonstrate what’s wrong with the album. Many songs indecisively linger between full-out Ramones pop and grimy Germs punk, eventually making both poses unconvincing despite the pleasant choruses and riffs. Lyrically, the concepts and poetic sentiments offer a nice respite from, well, intelligence. But I dare even the most hardened intellectual to resist the refrain, “Please leave me alone/ I’m tired of believers.” Not only are they punks; they’re polite about their alienation from society. However, we need to remember that, in America, we have had stupid lyrics for decades. In Sweden, this sort of ineptitude was probably groundbreaking.

While, as this lyric reveals, NFAA might not be the emblem of world-class punk, their songwriting skills easily match those of their American counterparts, The Offspring and Green Day. This is not necessarily a compliment, and this is the end of my review.

Archived article by Alex Linhardt

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