Descendents: Hypercaffium Spazzinate (Epitaph) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Descendents

Hypercaffium Spazzinate

Epitaph

Aug 01, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Back in 2004, when Descendents released their last album, things were different. George W. Bush was President and the Iraq War was the hot-button issue of the day. Descendents bassist Karl Alvarez wrote a terrific political diatribe on the related subject of patriotism called "'Merican" and the song was released as a single on a stand-alone EP of the same name, alongside the album Cool to Be You, the last Descendents release up to this point. One of the songs on the EP was "I Quit," in which singer Milo Aukerman announces that the title while stating that, for him, music is just for fun. One couldn't blame him as he had another career to fall back on as a biochemist for DuPont. Fast forward 12 years and Aukerman, freed from his other career due to a layoff and now fully committed to music, sounds more inspired and full of piss and vinegar than he has since 1996's terrific comeback LP Everything Sucks, if not ever. Lines like "I just quit this joke of a life plan" (from "Victim of Me," the first song released from the album) emanate from his pen. However, his passion never falls victim to blind rage or bitterness, as his and the rest of the band's hyper-intelligent, self-aware perspective is in full effect here.

Musically, this is similarly inspired though very much in line with not just Everything Sucks and Cool to Be You, but the two records (Mass Nerder and Problematic) their related band ALL made for Epitaph in 1998 and 2000. In other words, these are 16 full-on punk rock blasts with little time to hold your breath, but repeated listening reveals hidden layers of melody of nuance that is easy to miss with the initial short, sharp shock. One of the overlooked aspects of Cool to Be You is how their lyrical perspective (particularly that of bandleader and drummer Bill Stevenson but also that of Aukerman and Alvarez) had shifted to reflect the perspective of now middle-aged men with families. This continues on this album as its second single (and best song) "Without Love" utilizes a superb vocal melody to illustrate Stevenson's past marital woes. Other highlights include Aukerman's "Limiter," which seems to rail against the overmedication of children and between that song and opener "Feel This" (about drug-free living), there's another surprising lyrical undercurrent. Elsewhere, "Smile" sounds like an update of "Cheer" (from 1986's Enjoy!). There are other nice, self-referencing moments here that long-time fans will appreciate such as "No Fat Burger" (referencing I Don't Want to Grow Up's "No FB" and the "Fat" 7-inch classic "I Like Food") and "Full Circle," a "Thank You" part 2 of sorts that highlights their beginnings in the Los Angeles punk scene while referencing contemporaries and friends like Black Flag, Redd Kross, X, The Germs, and The Alleycats. The album ends on another high with "Beyond the Music," celebrating almost 40 years of their existence with a declaration of a life of friendship and music. Hurrah! (www.descendentsonline.com

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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