Less Than Jake - Anthem
Release Date: May 20th, 2003
Label: Sire Records
When one thinks of the ska scene, certain bands spring into your head right from the start like Reel Big Fish, Mad Caddies, and of course Less Than Jake. Less Than Jake have been around long enough, having been formed in 1992 and have numerous cd’s in the back catalog as well as a large fan following. Come 2003 it was time to release a follow up to Borders and Boundaries and Less Than Jake released the gem that would be titled simply, Anthem on May 20th, 2003.
From the very start of the album, it throws you headfirst into a catchy song that gets you hooked from the first note entitled Welcome to the New South. This song, as well as many others could arguably have been better choices for singles rather than their first choice of “She’s gonna break soon” which caters to the what at the time was filling the airwaves in the midst of the Good Charlotte and Simple Plan style bands who were grabbing America’s youth by the ears and infecting them with hits. The vocals on the album are nothing short of amazing as they are pulled off close to perfection and you can hear the emotion behind every word. Musicianship is also very well done, and even though it is lacking the horn section in many tracks and could use more in others, it is still very solid. The album is filled with the typical Less than Jake themes including apathy, leaving town, and substance abuse and surprisingly it has still yet to get old even to this day as they know just the right way of spilling out the words and leaving a smile on your face when you realize how true the lyrics are to today’s society. Their second single “The Science of Selling Yourself Short”, while not actually screaming “radio hit”, it still rather is a shout out to the fan base that has been around for years as it is the kind of song Less Than Jake are known for, and that’s because it’s what they do best. Touching such topics as sleeping on the kitchen floor
Though this is not to say that there isn’t any filler, or rather what I would feel are unnecessary songs on the album. Despite my distaste for the first single “She’s gonna break soon”, it is still better than some other tracks such as “Escape from the a-bomb house” and “Best wishes to your black lung”. I also felt as if the cover of “Surrender” was unnecessary and just seemed to be tacked on to the end of the album. Rather, “The brightest bulb has burned out / screws fall out” would seemingly have been a better note to end the album on. Some of my favorites on the album include “The brightest bulb has burned out / screws fall out”, “The ghosts of me and you”, and “Welcome to the New South” as I feel they have that catchiness Less Than Jake has come to be known for as well as in my opinion, the lyrics behind them to really push a deep connection to the songs. After all, who has had the perfect growing up experience? Whether that would be through relationships or just where your life is headed, the answer is nobody.
Another nice extra included with this CD was the artwork. Not only was there cover art for the CD as a whole, but rather it also included a unique piece of artwork for each song which really give the songs a better feel and are not just thrown in but rather seemingly done to reflect each song.
For fans of Less Than Jake, it’s another treasure to add to their CD collection. For those who are unsure, it is probably the best pick up and play CD in their collection for new comers. It is easy to get hooked and find the songs stuck in your head long after you are done listening to them.
My first real get into LTJ was in 2004 thru their purevolume page, which is a great sampler, and thru their Live @ Minneapolis, which includes some of these songs. I definitely agree with this review; I haven't listened enough to pre-Losing Streak to say too much, but this album is up there with 90s heyday for me. It's much better than the albums which bookend it.