To say the Descendents changed everything would be a gross understatement. These pioneers basically invented pop punk as we know it, and you can draw a straight line from their records to modern punk acts today. They took a genre that was about spikes, rebellion, chaos, and anarchy, and brought it to earth. It was about girls, growing up, and food. They didn’t wear costumes or have stages names. They were just regular dudes singing about the stuff that mattered to them in their normal, suburban lives. It was this style that quickly lead to their popularity in the punk rock scene, that still drives their popularity today. Well, that and the fact that they are total rippers. While other popular punk acts could barely play their instruments, let alone sing, the Descendents were skilled musicians and could harmonize with the best pop acts of the day.
Hypercaffium Spazzinate is the first Descendents album in 12 years, but sporadic releases are nothing new for fans of the band. These guys release albums when they are good and ready, and more than likely when they have something to say. This new record has more in common with some of the bands early releases than it does the more recent records like Everything Sucks and Cool to Be You. Sure, the guys are now writing as adults–in the loosest sense of the term–but there’s a renewed sense of punk rock energy here. It’s faster, more reckless, and more intense than those other albums.
Most of the tracks on Hypercaffium Spazzinate don’t even reach the two minute mark and the ones that do hardly climb above it. This record rarely slows down and never gives you a chance to catch your breath. Half the time singer Milo Aukerman sounds like he’s sending his vocal cords through a shredder, pushing himself to the limit. It’s not that he was holding back on the last two albums, but Stephen Egerton’s guitar and Karl Alvarez’s bass definitely took the front seat. That’s not the case on Hypercaffium Spazzinate, this is an album about singing along at the top of your lungs.
Bill Stevenson’s drumming is as on-point as his production. Milo may be the mascot, but Bill is the heart of the Descendents and that is apparent on Hypercaffium Spazzinate. From his perfectly balanced production to his hard-hitting drum work to his topnotch song writing (some of the best tracks are credited to him), Stevenson is doing some of his best work here. It’s his drumming and his production that make the sound we know as the Descendents. They have a sound that is instantly recognizable, that is one hundred percent one of a kind. When you hear it, you know it.
While most of the tracks sound like pitch perfect Descendents’ songs, there are some hints at a slightly different direction. “Shameless Halo” sounds like nothing the band has ever done, from the gang-style vocals to the aggressive melody, it’s a new sound, but still a Descendents sound. “Comeback Kid” and “Full Circle” have an old school feel, like something from the Enjoy! era (without the fart sounds). As a whole, Hypercaffium Spazzinate is another awesome record from one of the best bands to ever play punk rock music.
Image: Epitaph Records