Last year White Russian Records made me very happy by releasing Travoltas’ comeback album Until We Hit The Shore, which ended up being my favourite record of last year. Next to a couple of interesting up and coming bands White Russian Records is now releasing another comeback album of another Dutch punk legend: I Against I. Legendary in part because I Against I were the first European band to be signed to Epitaph Records.
I Against I released three albums, toured extensively and then called it quits in 2008. As we all know, blood is thicker than water and in 2017 the band got back together. With a different drive though. As they say in their press release: “Back then we were kids, now we have kids of our own. And jobs. And mortgages. And station wagons…” This resulted in an urgent need for an outlet. What better outlet is there than music? I Against I came to that same conclusion and started playing shows and writing songs. The end result is presented to you in the form of Small Waves.
My idea of musical catharsis is very bleak and aggressive. That’s the kind of music that calms my mind and nerves. Thankfully this is not the case for I against I. I say thankfully, because the world needs more than that aggressive stuff I dig so much when I need a musical outlet. No, Small Waves brings I Against I back to their roots instead: 90’s pop punk. And no matter how much of an outlet this might be for I Against I, Small Waves (and their back-catalogue for that matter) to me is music for sunny moods with a small touch of melancholy peeking through a bit every now and then. Must songs on Small Waves have that sunny, careless feeling. A feel that brings me back to the 90’s. Not so much because this type of music had its heyday back then. No more because that careless, sunny feeling is what I felt like most of the time back then. No job or mortgage or whatsoever to worry about if you catch my drift. Oh boy, I’m getting all nostalgic here! Enough about me though, let’s focus on the music a bit more!
Small Waves opens with the (first?) single “Hey”. It is abundantly clear why this is the albums single. It’s daring to start an album with the epitome of said album, but that’s just what I Against I have done. If you check this song you should have an idea of what to expect. The remaining nine songs are hit after hit after hit. Sometimes a bit more sunny, sometimes a bit more melancholic (I'm looking at you "Small Waves" or "Love You When I'm Gone"). Years of experience shine through. What I really appreciate about Small Waves is the fact that it’s brought back to it’s core. All fat has been trimmed. It’s a short album because of that, but I prefer ten hits over ten hits plus some filler. The band has also been very careful to allow no excess in the songs itself. Except for the four minute album closer “Small Waves” all songs are one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half minutes long. And I love them for it. No song overstays its welcome. Oh, how I wish more bands would have the guts to write songs (and albums) with this mindset!
Small Waves does not have the same impact on me that Travoltas comeback had. That’s a personal preference. I can clearly hear that this is one of the top contenders when it comes to best pop punk record of 2018. It’s a winner for sure! A sincere welcome back to I Against I!
8.0 / 10
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