This album must be met with surprise and some contempt, as the Western world was hardly clamoring for a Less Than Jake B-side album. This is partly due to the fact that the ska-punk band has already released nine albums of supposed A-sides, and partly due to the fact their A-sides mold over after one or less listens. Don’t get me wrong; I am not some arrogant and staunch defendant of bourgeois music. I am not saying Less Than Jake is a bad band compared to Stravinsky. I adore idiotic, adolescent, and often terrible music. Lest we forget, that sort of music once encompassed the Ramones and even today manages to turn out enjoyable albums by Sublime, NOFX, and Rancid. But Less Than Jake are not of that caliber and will barely stand up as torture music, let alone as decent party music. “Portrait of a Cigarette Smoker at 19” is about break-ups and put-downs and underage drinking and my lame parents and everything else that makes great pop music, but it’s delivered in that terrible overblown style that would later morph into emo and its entirely devoid of humor or energy.
None of the of the other songs need to be mentioned, since they are all basically identical except for the slower, more contemplative songs (“Bridge and Tunnel Authority”). The only respite comes in “Nine-One-One To Anyone,” a stupidly addictive chant that might as well have been written by Ferris Bueller on downers.
Archived article by Jim Denzikal
Red Letter Daze Contributor