The first minute of NOFX's new album, Pump Up the Valluum, sounds damn near identical to the first minute of the band's sixth album, Punk in Drublic, released in 1994. The rock-god dueling guitars fire up the intro, then the drum rolls of impending doom indicate something really big is about to rock your bones, and then -- and then -- a flat, nasally voice interrupts: "Hello, welcome to our CD/Can you hear the blatant similarity/To 'Linoleum'?"
Of course, it's all a big joke on the listener, a reference to Drublic's opening tune. It's the same self-effacing joke that singer/bassist Fat Mike has been telling his fans for fifteen years, with one new punchline: The band's lighting-quick musical chops are -- if possible -- even more refined. The fourteen tracks crammed into Pump Up the Valluum play like a 31-minute-long, highfalutin dick joke: You know what to expect, you think it's stupid but funny anyway, and finally, you're left astonished by its craftsmanship. And remarkably, it doesn't get old. There's something to be said for redundancy when it's done well.
On "Take Two Placebos and Call Me Lame," the signature NOFX stop-n-go riffs are all there, yet they are faster, sharper, quicker and taken to the umpteenth degree. At first listen, the CD sounds like it's skipping, but it's in tune and on time. Just as familiar to the NOFX playbook is the ongoing romance between Liza and Louise, two lesbians who first met in 1992 on White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean ("First I want you to kiss me/Now I want you to fist me"). Now, four albums later, Louise has grown into her own: "She got a silicone cock sticking in her ass and one in her cunt/A butterfly vibrator strapped tight to her clit/But who's got the remote control?/That would belong to Louise."
Yet for all of Louise's, um, personal evolutions, the members of NOFX still find it necessary to remind their audience that they're the same old guys, too punk to change their ways. On the appropriately titled "Theme From a NOFX Album," the group chants, "We're professional punkers/We come from the suburbs/After fifteen years we're still having fun/Now we're over thirty, not looking so purty/At least we got a beat-up accordion."
A fine, if meaningless, punchline indeed.
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