Reviews Less Than Jake In With the Out Crowd

Less Than Jake

In With the Out Crowd

I'm a huge Less Than Jake fan. Hello Rockview is one of my favorite albums ever recorded, so when I heard that the band would be working with Howard Benson (who produced that stellar record) to record In With the Out Crowd, I was pretty excited. The band commented on the record saying that the material would be leaning more towards the rock aspects of 2000's Borders & Boundaries and their last proper album, 2003's Anthem with a only about half the album containing ska songs.

I enjoyed Anthem, though it wasn't the strongest album, it was a great major label debut. One year later, B is for B-Sides, a record containing all the songs that didn't make the cut for their previous full-length, was released. The record showed Less Than Jake's raw and pissed-off attitude that Anthem truly lacked, leading me to believe that their label chose the track listing for the full-length - not the band. B is for B-Sides was undeniably the Less Than Jake that I remembered helping me get into punk music.

And after all of that, it not only pains, but actually saddens me to have to write this review. A band that I respect and love so much has not just let me down, but practically pushed me face-forward into the mud and shit on my head with this record. This is not Less Than Jake, and I absolutely refuse to believe that the band that wrote the songs on B is for B-Sides wrote this trite and sometimes unlistenable drivel. Shamelessly empty and catchy, this is pure pop-rock with none of the attitude that the band has been known to inject into their songs, and in most cases the ska that was promised seems more like an afterthought. After Hello Rockview the horns were used less as prominent instruments, and instead accentuated many aspects of the songs on the following albums, and quite well I might add. It certainly doesn't feel like that's the case with In With the Out Crowd. They're still there, but add almost nothing when they appear, which isn't nearly as often as on previous albums.

From what I've said thus far, you must think this album is absolutely terrible; however, it isn't as bad as I might make it seem. Sure, the lyrics are definitely lacking and filled with clichés that I never expected Vinnie to resort to using like: Now we realize the compromises you and I / (You gotta let her go, gotta let her go) / You fell from heaven to heartbreak in the blink of an eye / (You gotta let her go, gotta let her go)… But there are a couple enjoyable songs on this disc. "In-Dependence Day", "Fall Apart" and "Mostly Memories" are above average enough to at least warrant listening to. The silver lining to this unbearably dreary cloud is that most of the songs are incredibly catchy, but it's immediately countered by the lyrics which seem uncomfortably forced.

Then there are songs that are almost a chore to listen to. I'm not sure what the hell Chris was thinking when he decided he wanted to sing "Don't Fall Asleep On the Subway" the way he did, but it's annoying and awkward (something I NEVER thought I'd say about a Less Than Jake song). The single "Overrated (Everything Is)" sounds like a straight-up Mest song, but the upside to that is that if Mest had written it, it would have been their best song ever. And didn't they write a song that's the opposite of "Let Her Go" ("Great American Sharpshooter" from Hello Rockview)? Also, "The Rest of My Life" is a slower ballad-y song that doesn't sound like anything the band has ever done previously, but not in a good way. It sounds like a re-imagining of "Is This Thing On?" from Borders & Boundaries, you know, only shitty.

Well, Less Than Jake, you said you wanted to "write a bunch of songs that couldn't go on any other record" and you've successfully done it, albeit it's a record that few people who were fans previously will want to buy…but you did it. Yay? Nay, sir. Nay.

5.0 / 10Alex N.
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