For the last 30 years, punk rock legends, NOFX, remained in the spotlight by pushing the boundaries of music and of the times. They were formed in 1983, but did not find much success until the release of their fifth studio album, Punk In Drublic, in 1994. The band has never been signed to a major label, aside from Fat Wreck Chords, which was started by the band’s frontman Fat Mike and his then-girlfriend in the early ‘90s, but selling over eight million records worldwide has made them the most successful independent band of all time. Now, here they are with their 13th album, First Ditch Effort, which was released on Oct. 7.
Fat Mike has said that this album is definitely his most personal. You can tell this just from the first track on the album alone, “6 Years On Dope.” Although the song is short in length, it tells an interesting story of drug addiction from who other than the recovered drug addict himself. The lyrics talk about “losing hope” and how the person was a “human trash can.” You can assume from the past tense used in the lyrics that this person is no longer an addict, but still views their past self as not a very good person. While the song sounds very upbeat and is fast paced, after really listening to the lyrics, you realize it is heartbreaking, as are many of the songs on the album when you give them a good listen.
Jumping around to the second to last song on the disc, “I’m So Sorry Tony,” you have another track that tugs right at the heartstrings. A tribute to No Use For A Name’s late frontman, Tony Sly, who passed away in July 2012, talks about how the band has never known a better writer or better guy and how nothing can compare to losing their friend Tony. The one part of the song that’ll definitely bring a tear to your eye is when you hear Fat Mike sing about overhearing Tony’s daughter telling his own daughter that she hopes her dad might still come home because he said he would on the phone three years ago. At the end of “I’m So Sorry Tony,” there are sound bites of Tony Sly speaking at one of his concerts, a chilling way to conclude this beautiful tribute of a song.
While there are many dark songs on the album, there are also some very interesting ones. The third track, for example, “Sid And Nancy,” is about the death of Sex Pistols frontman Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy, but instead of saying that it was his girlfriend Nancy who helped kill him, they say it was Nancy Reagan. I’m not entirely sure what the message of the song is, but the song definitely has me thinking a lot, and who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory to think about?
Most of the tracks on this album have a very dark theme, but it is very deceiving due to the upbeat tune of each song that makes you want to get up and dance. It is definitely one of those albums that after listening to the first time you will think to yourself, “What the heck did I just listen to?” But, the catchiness of each tune will make you go back and listen again and realize that these songs have a deeper meaning and maybe are a little more relatable and a lot better than you initially thought
In A Word: Engaging