Justin Sane - Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Justice
Record Label: A-F Records
Release Date: March 19, 2002
The first, and so far only solo release from Justin Sane, frontman of political punk band Anti-Flag, is one to remember. Unlike Anti-Flag, where nearly all of their lyrics deal with their political views or thoughts on modern-day society, this album deals with almost everything but that. The songs are about exactly what the title states: life, love, and pursuit of justice. When it comes to the few songs that deal with politics, they are some of Sane's best. His ability as a non-political songwriter shines throughout this album, which has grown to become one of my favorites.
Even though it was released almost exactly a year prior to the US invasion of Iraq, Sane (a major critic of the Iraq War) is still able to find plenty of things to complain about. The track, "If It's Good for the Economy, I'm For It!" doesn't beat around the bush and Sane directly puts out his honest political opinions. Though some of that track might be controversial, with lines like, "If genocide is good for the economy/Then I am for it/If genocide is bad for the economy/Then I'm against it," it's a great thing that he wasn't afraid of what he had to say.
One spot that Sane really shines on this album is one song in particular about love. "61C Days Turned to Night" is a song that brings back memories of one of the greatest times of my life. While other songs by other artists make me depressed about the whole situation (*cough*aceenders*cough*) this song gives me that warm and tingly feeling inside and makes me genuinely happy.
Another topic mentioned in the title is life. That is what the majority of the songs seem to be about. "On The Streets Tonight" is Sane singing about how all he wants is to never go home and just spend all his time hanging out with friends. "Thanks for the Letter (From a Kinder, Gentler America)" is a mission statement of some sorts where Sane recites a letter he once received that pretty much dictates why Sane doesn't give up on his music career and continues writing the lyrics he does. "Cassette Deck, Road Trip, Grand Canyon" is recounting a road trip Sane once took with his friends that almost turned disastrous, and they had a cassette tape recording their conversations the entire time. When listening to tracks like these, it reminds you almost exactly why you love life.
One track that always sticks out to me every time is "We Found a Place (These Are the Days)." It describes the story of a few kids that don't fit in with most people, and some of which are on the verge of giving up on life. But then they discover the punk rock scene and instantly fit in and start living their life. The last kid in the story seems to be Sane himself. This track describes how many of us feel about the punk scene and exactly what we love about it.
The album is not without it's flaws, however. Some tracks, like "The Critical Writing Assignment" and "College Avenue," are almost instantly forgettable and are songs that the album could have easily done without. Also, the album is entirely Sane and mostly distorted guitar, so some tracks can start to sound repetitive.
Though the musicianship isn't top-notch, what's important is the words. Sane's voice complements his lyrics perfectly. At times, when you're listening to the album in a room with no light or other sound, it can almost seem as though Sane is right there singing the songs in front of you. This adds to the honesty and sincerity of his lyrics.
Overall, lyrically this is one of my favorite albums of all time. I love Anti-Flag, but I wouldn't like it if they were to have songs like these that aren't very political, as politics is what Anti-Flag is pretty much all about. With Sane saying that in the future he is interested in another solo release, I can't wait to hear what he has prepared, especially with his critique of the Iraq War, and maybe even some songs about how he felt during the Bush-era.