NOFX has been around since many of us were young, they were the kind of band that would creep up to the top of the list if you were interested in exploring what punk has to offer. With a 40 year career still going strong, I’m delighted to find that their latest full length Single Album is still as fun and energetic as when I’ve first heard of this legendary band.
Of course – a lot of things have changed, people get older and perspectives in life mature with age. Such is also the case with punk bands (at least, those who make it for this long). As they get older – the best of them also get wiser, while able to present their message so efficiently within the medium. The stark look this album shares about our society is what makes this such a fascinating listen. Frontman Fat Mike confronts his mortality, the decay of the punk scene and modern political conflicts with the usual NOFX tropes we all know and love – with lots of wordplay, rollicking rhythms and a don’t-give-a-damn attitude.
“The Big Drag” is such a bold opener for any punk record. This song is structured like a free flowing speech spanning close to six minutes with minimal chord changes. In it, Fat Mike reflects on the limited time he has in this world while also confronting the legacy of his work. A sort of wake up call to making the most out of our mortality and a tribute to those who are gone.
I admit I haven’t been as up to date with NOFX’s material this decade, so I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun they’re still having with these songs after all these years. “Fuck Euphemism” is one such instance. With a wordplay or pun on every corner, Fat Mike confronts sexuality and political correctness on different angles. “Fish in a Gun Barrel” does the same with a ska exploration on gun control measures and how this contentious issue has been running around in circles for years.
My favorite in the album should be Liewleum (featuring Avenged Sevenfold), where the band muses on their biggest hit and how it has spread all over the world despite them not thinking too much about it: “I never even wrote a chorus, just verses and a bridge”. The music video compiles footage of bands around the world covering their songs. It’s heartwarming to see such a diverse group of people.
Some may say that Single Album sounds too typical or same-y for the band but I disagree. Their message is clearer, the flow is much more seamless and it shows the members as well meaning (yet flawed) people with some great insights to offer society. And their sound can still knock your socks off. It doesn’t get any more punk than that.