I feel I should start this review by saying that I can almost guarantee that I am a bigger Descendents fan than you are, whoever you are. I have the “Milo Goes To College” album cover tattoo’d on my wrist; I have all their albums in CD and vinyl; I travelled to Las Vegas solely to see their first appearance at Punk Rock Bowling; and my son’s name is, in fact, Milo. The list ends there, just this side of creepy.
So when the announcement for ‘Hypercaffium Spazzinate’ was made, to say that I anticipated the release of this album would be a gross understatement.
Twelve years is a long time to wait for a new album from one of your all time favorite bands. It puts a lot of pressure, perhaps unfairly, on the record to be one of the greatest things you’ve ever heard. And after listening to ‘Hypercaffium’ from front to back four times, I can say that it’s dependably awesome, but perhaps not world renewing as I was hoping it would be. But that’s probably more my problem than it is the bands.
The album kicks off with one of its best tunes. The hyper, heavy minute long ‘Feel This’. Stephen Egerton’s long missed guitar slicing through the air, followed shortly by Karl Alvarez’s delicious bass walk and Bill Stevenson’s solid drum pummelage (see what I did there?). It’s a great way to start off a Descendents album. Then Milo’s voice comes in and sounds as rough hewed and energetic as we were all hoping it would. Does it sound as youthful and pissed off as it did on ‘Everything Sucks’ back in ’96? No. The dude’s 53 years old. The difference between being 33 and 53 is a sizeable one when it comes to singing. But it’s undeniably Milo. And that’s all I asked.
‘Victim of Me’ follows, the album’s first single, and it’s fun and very Descendents-ish. Not hugely memorable perhaps, but catchy and heartfelt in all the right places.
‘On Paper’ is a fun, snarky little number. Typically (for this band) self deprecating and geeky.
‘Shameless Halo’ is a cheesy love tune. Very poppy, maybe the poppiest tune on the album. But fast. Bill Stevenson’s drums on this song are particularly restless and fun.
‘No Fat Burger’ is another one of my favorite tunes on the album. A sequel to ‘I Like Food’, this song hilariously speaks of the aftermath of a diet filled with heavy red meat consumption and too many greasy fries. Oh the joys of ageing.
‘Testosterone’ speaks out against masochism in the way that previous albums have. It’s an angry song. Muscle bound woman haters take note, this one’s for you.
‘Without Love’ is another love song. Very similar to ‘One More Day’ from “Cool To Be You” or ‘We’ from “Everything Sucks”. A sweet, catchy punk song.
‘We Got Defeat’ is another quick blast of punk fury. ‘Smile’ is another catchy love song.
‘Limiter’ sounds the most like something that could have come off of “Milo Goes To College”. They even mention the almighty tenants of ALL on this song.
Now to be completely honest here, and as their biggest fan, I feel I must be, the last half dozen songs on the album are not as memorable as the first ten. They’re still good songs, but more skippable than the rest. Still ‘Full Circle’ is great and album closer ‘Beyond The Music’ is a nice statement of why the band is still a thing after all these years. It’s also a tribute to their love of music, both playing it and listening to it. A nice amalgamation of ‘Thank You’ from “Everything Sucks” and an update of ‘Descendents’ from “I Don’t Want To Grow Up”.
I still love this band and this is a great album. It’s a healthy sixteen songs (the deluxe version is twenty one) and even with five of those being around or under a minute long, it could probably still have been a couple songs shorter. But after twelve years, I’m not going to make bones about having too many songs on a Descendents album.
It’s not one of their best albums; it’s not one of their worst. It is, wholly and truly, Descendents. And for a band that could be here today, gone tomorrow, it’s hard to ask for more than that.
THe album is out July 29th and can be ordered at http://kingsroadmerch.com/descendents/