For a few weeks now, I’ve been listening to the latest effort from the Aquabats, and contemplating my critique. Having done a number of reviews and critiques over the years, this one has been the hardest, because it is such a unique project. I have heard of the Aquabats but had never heard their music until now. So, rather than review this by comparing and contrasting it with past works, I am simply going to focus on this particular body of work.
So, to point out the obvious… this is not your “typical” band. With their spandex “rash guard” super hero shirts and their anti-negativity helmets, they not only deliver everything you would want from a world famous rock band, but they also travel the planet in their highly customized Winnebego fighting crime, including notorious bad guys like Gasface and Kitty Litter.
Or at least that’s what I hear.
So, on to the music… It’s juvenile, cheesier than cheetos in nacho sauce, completely over-the-top, borderline ridiculous, and… FUN! It’s actually refreshing to have something on my iPod that is fun, light-hearted, energetic, and full of satire.
Surprisingly enough, they appear to be extremely compenent musicians, effortlessly delivering a sound that brings together a number of genres from 80’s pop, rock, dare I say ska, light punk, modern pop sounds, and more. With their tongue-in-cheek style they seem to poke fun at some of the over-processed, cliche, and auto-tuned-to-death sounds from modern pop music by cleverly working those same techniques into their own music.
Their album opens up with “The Shark fighter”. The first 15-20 seconds is probably enough to turn off (or maybe even scare) your typical numb-minded modern pop junkie. Had I produced the album, I would have likely opted for a different opening number, but hey, if you are going to swim – i guess there is nothing wrong with jumping into the deep end.
The next song “B.F.F.” is a BRILLIANT song, and would have been a much better opening number. This song is so darn catchy that I find it popping into my head randomly throughout the day. Great beat, great melody, hilarious lyrical content, and the sing-along-feel of the chorus was a masterful production technique, as is the overtuned vocal section. Seriously, this song is brilliant, I can’t say enough about it.
“The Legend is True” shows off a high energy lead guitar that has 80’s superstar all over it. “Hey Homies!” shows off a more synth heavy arrangement, again with a very catchy group sing along feel. “In My Dreams” features a ska driven pop sound. Several songs, including “Food Fight on the Moon!” have what I will describe as artsy-fartsy sections that nicely and cleverly break up the songs.
The album closes with “Luck Dragon Lady!” which has a fantastic sound. After a retro guitar riff opening, it breaks into a great sounding, very commercial, modern arrangement with a memorable, melodic chorus. The song then alternates between that very commercial sounding chorus and more eclectic verses, and does so brilliantly and smoothly. This song is a brilliant finish to the album.
In summary – you might love it or you might hate it, but you won’t forget it. Even the harshest of critics would have to admit there are some moments of pure brilliance, toe-tapping, sing-along fun on this album. Full of musical satire, catchy melodies, quirkyness, and good musicianship, this album seems to hit a bullseye for the market it has targeted.
As much fun as this album has packed into it, I can only imagine that a live concert with the Aquabats would be one heck of a good time.