Reel Big Fish - Monkeys for Nothin' and the Chimps for Free Released July 10th, 2007
Rock Ridge Music
Some of you familiar with a selection of my previous reviews are perhaps adjusted to my random, arguably off-topic, introspective and “creatively-written” formats I seem to get carried away with in every other three or four reviews. Before sitting down to listen to Reel Big Fish’s Monkeys For Nothin’ and the Chimps for Free, I felt it was time to flex my imaginative muscle once again and kick the shit out of my previous efforts. Once I actually came to my senses around the middle of the album, writing something deep and inspiring while in the context of critiquing a goofy ska band could not be pulled off with a straight face. Granted it might have been possible with the group’s previous effort, We’re Not Happy ‘Til You’re Not Happy, but with more wit than ever with Monkeys... – its pretty much no dice for an artistic review.
Some would argue that the band has lost some of what made them great in the Why Do They Rock So Hard? era. While their textbook spunk and and lively lyrics have made women swoon since '95, what you'll find in this new album is more or less the same dish Barrett and gang have brought to the table many times before. The last seven songs (cleverly labeled under "Chimps" on the back of the album) are even re-recordings of previous releases, such as "Hate You", "I'm Her Man", and the b-side "Cannibal". But it shouldn't really come as a surprise that the band backtracks a little as they've prided a lot of their career on the fact that they're comfortable going back to older songs. These re-workings aren't a total drag, though. "Way Back", previously a Japanese bonus-track, is a great mid-album song that takes the tempo down just a little bit. That is -- it takes the tempo down before thrusting you back in to it merely with the words, "Oooh shit fuck" in "Hate You".
The new songs are the same ol' Fish. "Party Down", a song about that something the band has been preaching for the past decade, is definitely the kind of song the album needed to start out with. Involving their penchant for humorously delving into other genres (a la "S.R.") and chipper verses/choruses, one thing becomes readily apparent -- this band has not lost their edge. Subsequent gems like "My Imaginary Friend" and "The New Version of You" are also welcomed tracks to the band's catalogue. The DVD that comes along with the package is a somewhat brief "behind-the-scenes" of the band working on the album. Aaron and Scott, in their usual playfulness, run the viewer through the steps in recording an album. Other than the short interludes with the duo, the rest is pretty docile. It shows Matt Wong recording his last arpeggios for Reel Big Fish and the gang participating in the infamous gang chant of "Another F.U. Song", among other things.
Bright-eyed newbies to Reel Big Fish will no doubt find themselves overwhelmed with what the band has crafting all these years. Old fans should not hesitate to jump, once again, in to this release as well. Monkeys for Nothin' and the Chimps for Free is one that both new and old fans can get into. Anybody that can't is taking it to seriously. Its a ska band for fuck sake. Just dance.
Aaron has the same birthday as myself (Aug. 30th), so perhaps I am slightly biased here ... but I love RBF and listen to them frequently. They make me so happy and are just fun to listen to. This album is no different, and I love the way they incorporated old tracks with new ones -- it just shows they haven't lost their attitude and still like to bring a lively atmosphere to their music.
Meh, I don't get all the negativity, but to each his own. I like it because it doesn't take itself seriously and that's what I enjoy RBF for.
I am tired of seeing this excuse for people disputing RBF's newer albums. It's not that it's not fun, it's that it's just not GOOD like their last ones were. The hooks aren't the same, the lyrics not as quirky, the novelty wore off and they haven't done anything to improve, they've simply done the same thing, but worse and worse.