Less Than Jake – Anthem

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Album Review by Mark Bayross

After over 100 releases and God knows how many albums, Florida’s Less Than Jake make their debut on Warner Bros. with ANTHEM, presumably in a bid to take on the nu-punk upstarts at their own game.

Produced by Rob Cavallo, who was at the desk on Green Day’s “Dookie”, this holds no surprises, but is bound to please existing fans. A fast-shooting collection of ska-punk songs packed with melody, singalong choruses and Vinnie’s engaging lyrics, if it’s upbeat pogo-friendly tunes you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place.

Themes range from the awkwardness of growing up (first single SHE’S GONNA BREAK SOON) to the inertia of feeling stuck in Nowheresville USA (LOOK WHAT HAPPENED), while the omnipresent guitars are bolstered by hefty blasts of brass, plus the obligatory reggae number (THE SCIENCE OF SELLING YOURSELF SHORT) and cover (Cheap Trick’s SURRENDER).

At 3½ minutes, the hook-laden ESCAPE FROM THE A-BOMB HOUSE is comparatively epic in length, and you could argue that the adolescent themes ring a bit hollow from these punk veterans (are they just shifting units?), but with short, sharp tracks like the hyperactive SHORT FUSE BURNING, there’s plenty here to get bodies bouncing and faces grinning.

It’s not exactly rocket science, but all good, clean fun.

4 stars