It’s been twelve years since The Descendents released their last studio album, Cool to Be You. For demonstration purposes, let’s just compare what’s changed in the world around us since 2004; cell phones have gotten smaller and then bigger again, Netflix has a streaming service and MTV no longer plays music videos. One thing you can say is that The Descendents have not changed, yet Hypercaffium Spazzinate manages to fit right in.
From the moment you press play and ‘Feel This’ rings through your cranium, you’re pummelled with a bassline that just doesn’t let up, dragging you down the tarmac going one hundred miles an hour – you really can’t ask for a better opener. Flip over to side B and you encounter ‘Limiter’, a social commentary of sorts posing the question, “What ever happened to a drug-free youth?” when schools push drugs onto kids at a young age just for being a “Spaz”. Not to be outdone, ‘Human Being’ opens your eyes to the madness that surrounds us in everyday life. Standing out like a sore thumb, ‘Fighting Myself’ sneaks around the corner and grabs at your foot, forcing you to tap along. It’s as if The Descendents carry around a mighty melody machine and if you ask me, this song ranks up there with anything from their past endeavours. Other standouts include ‘Victim of Me’ which picks up directly where ‘Feel This’ left off pounding at your eardrums. Let’s not count out tunes such as ‘Shameless Halo’ and ‘On Paper’ either, while being somewhat frivolous lyrically, they keep the melody train running straight ahead with catchy hooks and pounding instrumentals.
It’s not as if Hypercaffium Spazzinate isn’t without its faults, by the time you get deep into the second half each song starts to meld together, there’s not a lot to differentiate most songs from the one you heard earlier. On the flip side, the album barely goes over the thirty-minute mark, although I wouldn’t have minded a longer experience, especially if I have to wait another twelve years for new Descendents album.
Hypercaffium Spazzinate is a must listen for any old school punk rock fan, whether you’re driving down the highway, at work or walking to the bus you’ll find yourself with that little extra something in your step. Unfortunately, if you’re going into this album searching for some sort of enlightenment or the meaning of life then boy, have you stumbled onto the wrong review! Here, Milo sings of high school life on ‘We Got Defeat’, not living up to standards with ‘On Paper’ and what you can’t eat as you get older on ‘No Fat Burger’, a nod, perhaps towards bassist Karl Alvarez who successfully recovered from a heart attack in 2007. But don’t call the Descendents old, they do punk rock better with grey hair then the majority of punks with mohawks and skinny jeans ever will.
Hypercaffium Spazzinate is out now via Epitaph Records.