No More Songs About Sleep and Fire was released in 2004 at the height of the Bush administration. This year marked Poster Children’s 16th year in the business, but despite that the band’s energy is as strong and fierce as ever. No More Songs covers heavy political themes, with lyrics and emotions that are undoubtedly fueled by the post 9/11 America, in a world consumed by stressful circumstances.
As we may all know by now, the band’s punk infused rock is perfect for this. Rick Valentin not only knows how to write a protest song with great substance and thought, but also backs it up with their muscular sounding guitars and unrelenting rhythms. Looking at it seventeen years into the future in 2021, I find these songs still as strong and relevant as they may have been during that time. “Flag” talks about the perils of symbolism and how it can be maneuvered to serve only a select number of people, while also urging our responsibility to maintain the balance: “I’ve got some news / It’s my flag too”.
“The Leader” is so strikingly relevant that it may just have been written yesterday. It talks about blindly following a leader, despite their willingness to spread lies to improve their own situation. The line “We know he lies” is juxtaposed with “We love the lies”, suggesting how we are all complacent for the rise of authoritarian powers. Similarly, “Different & Special Things” alludes to an apocalyptic scenario over grimy riffs and hounding noises – one that could come if all of these powers don’t go in check.
Along with these heavy hitters are also the fun and lighthearted pop rock songs that come prevalent with the band’s later material. Years of honing their creativity makes this all feel so seamless and par for the course for any PC album. “Sugarfriend” is whimsical punk with mad hatter energy that talks about a friend who only appears when things are easy, but are nowhere in sight when there’s trouble. “The Bottle” is a rollicking rock song about dysfunctional characters drowning their troubles with alcohol.
One oddball in here is the nostalgic mood of “Western Springs”. This groovy and funky song talks about settling down to the suburbs and escaping the noise of city life.
No More Songs About Sleep and Fire feels like a misleading title, as it embraces a mix of fiery and fun at the same time. But I don’t think anyone is complaining, as Poster Children continues to beef up their already stellar legacy as one of the greatest of the 90’s bands.