American punk rock band from Los Angeles NOFX release their thirteenth album First Ditch Effort.
By Jane Howkins.
First Ditch Effort is the thirteenth album by melodic punk band NOFX, being their first studio album since 2012’s Self Entitled. The band have been criticised in the past for being complacent due to the fact that their formula doesn’t seem to have changed that much over the years, but they seem to have upped their game and mixed things up a bit here, which is a welcome change and should shut the naysayers up for a little while.
The tempo of NOFX songs generally tends to be pretty fast, with the odd slow bar or two somewhere near the bridge. Here they seem to have partly ditched that, with different time signatures and tempos frequenting the record. One early example is the second track Happy Father’s Day, which starts off with a very jarring riff. It’s actually a bit annoying at first due to the randomness of it but once you listen to it a few times you’ll want to keep repeating the song over and over again. In terms of speed, some of the songs here are also the quickest ones that they’ve ever done, with opener Six Years On Dope and the aforementioned Happy Father’s Day being some of the fastest songs they’ve released for quite a while, leaving you longing for more. Also of note here is closing song Generation Z which starts off acoustically before the rest of the band finally kicks in.
That’s not to say that this isn’t a typical NOFX album though. Whilst there are (welcome) changes, they’ve managed to straddle the line between new and old very well, with First Ditch Effort sounding very much like the sound of refreshed band, and one that has plenty of life still in it. One of the reasons for this may be due to frontman Fat Mike’s sobriety. He is reportedly not completely sober at the moment (it seems he wanted to go sober temporarily for a little while), but many of the songs on the record do have lyrics about sobriety. In the past when singing about this subject Mike and the gang have generally shown support for taking drugs and alcohol and mocked those who don’t, but for what may be the first time the guys seem to be showing a different side to that lifestyle, with Oxy Moronic being particularly poignant in this regard.
Mike’s willingness to go sober for a bit may be in part due to the death of Tony Sly from fellow punk band No Use For A Name, who passed away in 2012 due to an alleged overdose. The band have included a touching tribute to Tony on the track I’m So Sorry Tony, which is particularly moving. That’s not to say that First Ditch Effort is a completely serious album however, with songs such as I’m A Transvest-Lite and Sid & Nancy showing the band’s more fun side. This is a return to form for NOFX, and one of the best albums they have released for a while.