Reviewed by: Trope Misanthrope
Follow at: https://twitter.com/punk_reviews
Release date: April 13
Label: Bird Attack Records
Format: CD, LP, digital
Let me start this review by saying that No Fun At All is easily one of the most influential punk rock bands of my life. NFAA are founding fathers to the genre now known as ‘skate-punk’.
Sure, they take their cues from Bad Religion — guitarist Mikael Danielsson is the first to admit this — but if you follow the trails and clues laid down by your favorite skate-punk bands, they ALL lead back to Bad Religion, even if they don’t know it. When I first discovered NFAA back in 1998, I would describe the band to my friends as the perfect blend of Bad Religion, meets Pennywise, meets the Offspring.
How could any self-respecting punk rocker not be totally sucked in by that comparison?
No Fun At All got their start in 1991 but once Ingemar Jansson joined as the vocalist and co-songwriter in 1993, the band really began to spread it’s wings and approach the potential that it had. For those of you who might be new to NFAA, my suggestion would be to get your hands on their magnum opus The Big Knockover (1997), first and foremost.
TBK is the perfect skate-punk record. All killer, no filler.
Since the band’s last effort, Low Rider (2008), they haven’t released any new music. It’s been about a decade, but No Fun At All is adding a new entry to their canon with their new album Grit, out on Bird Attack Records.
Before I dive into Grit, first, let me say this. I’m always stoked at the notion of hearing new NFAA music, but when I learned last year that Stefan Bratt (Atlas Losing Grip) joined the band on bass, my excitement grew even more. As a reviewer, it’s impossible to say how much Bratt might have contributed to the songwriting process on Grit, and as a newcomer, perhaps not much.
But his bass work on this album is the most interesting and proficient I’ve ever heard from NFAA. Usually, NFAA’s bass work follows the rhythm guitar riffs, and while Bratt certainly does that at times on Grit, he mixes it up quite a bit with techinical bass lines that deviate from the melody, but add tremendous harmony to the overall sound.
Grit is an excellent album. As much as I dig Satanic Surfers, to me, No Fun At All have always represented the pinnacle of European melodic hardcore. While the Surfers can take you down the rabbit hole with their technicality and furious riffing, for some it can become exhausting. NFAA feeds that lizard brain that craves both the speed and the infectious, catchy melody.
The band did not deviate from their formula on Grit. While this album does have a few excellent mid-tempo offerings, like “Runner’s High”, Grit blazes right out of the gates with what might be the best song on the record, “Spirit”.
In 12 songs, NFAA lands on all the components that we’ve come to expect and crave from the band, and drops immense amounts of dopamine in the listener’s brain when each song hits it’s anthemic chorus.
NFAA aren’t reinventing the wheel, and may the Skate-Punk Gods bless them for it. I don’t want my favorite bands to change. I want new music, and new songs, yes, and I don’t know about you, but I crave the classic sounds of my favorite bands.
No Fun At All most certainly delivers in that sense with their new album Grit. 12 entries of smart, savvy songwriting from a band who takes confidence writing songs in the familiar but exciting realm of melodic hardcore.
Hopefully the addition of Stefan Bratt on bass and Frederik Eriksson on lead guitar can serve as the new blood of a resurgence from No Fun At All. If Grit is any indication, this is a rejuvenated band and Grit could be just the start to a prolific new chapter of NFAA.
It’s hard to pick favorites on Grit, but the top tracks include “Spirit”. “No Fun Intended”, “Runner’s High”, “Forth” and “Suitable Smile”. Put this cathartic album on, jump in your car, and hit the highway singing your ass off.