Reel Big Fish - We're Not Happy 'Til You're Not Happy
Release Date: April 5th, 2005
Record Label: Jive Records
Reel Big Fish are back with their first release since 2002's 'Cheer Up', We're Not Happy Til You're Not Happy. Led by frontman Aaron Barrett, Reel Big Fish were one of the leaders (amongst No Doubt and Sublime) of the 90's third-wave ska movement. With their fifth release now on the shelves, Reel Big Fish prove to us once more that ska is by no means dead.
The album opens itself with the blazing, stick-in-your-head track "The Fire". For those of you out there who have their dancing shoes on, this track surely isn't going to dissapoint you. The horns are there, the upstrokes are back, and this shows us the Fish aren't going anywhere. Following "The Fire" is the albums second stand-out track "Drinkin'", or the track I like to refer to as "Beer Part Two". Aaron Barretts guitar work is fantastic, and nothing less than what fans have come to expect from the bands frontman. Once again our ears are pounded with something we can skank to, something Reel Big Fish have been providing ska fans for a number of years now. The sarcastic, highly critical "Don't Start a Band" is next to come. Quirky lyrics and dual vocals (provided by Aaron and Scott Klopfenstein), concluded by an ear-splitting guitar solo, make this one a track you aren't soon to forget. This track seems to be a three minute and eighteen second warning to the listeners out there: "Don't start a band, you will sign your life away and then you will be working for the man."
As we reach the middle of the album we're given a refreshing, brass-filled (compliments of trombone player Dan Regan and newly acquired trumpet player, John Christianson) cover of Morrisey's "We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful"; and a one-drop, reggae style remake of Tracy Chapman's "Talkin' Bout a Revolution", as well as an updated version of Social Distortions "Story of My Life". Stuck between the two classics is what Barrett himself calls the title track he unfortunately wrote nine years too late for the bands second album, "Turn The Radio Off". There's no doubt that Mr. Barrett is speaking his mind on the bands latest record as the lyrics begin with "I hate music. I hate the scene. I hate my records. I hate CD's." Following the cover of Chapman's revolution comes "The Bad Guy", one of the tracks displaying to listeners a slightly different side of the Fish.
As the album draws itself to a close, the themes continue and the music shows us what this band can really do. Keeping with the theme of positive song titles, "One Hit Wonderful" is a slower, ballad type of song, while "Your Guts (I Hate Em')" is a danceable ska song. Some of you may wonder just what the hell is going on when you reach a series of odd, eerie noises that are a fair competition for nails on a blackboard, but i'll just give you a little hint by quoting one of our forum users: "try thinking backwards."
Overall, one thing is evident: this is Reel Big Fish. Take it or leave it. Although this album may take some time to grow on new fans of the band, it currently stands as my favourite album of 2005, and it doesn't look like that will be changing anytime soon.