02.Victim Of Me
05.No Fat Burger
08.We Got Defeat
12.Spineless and Scarlet Red
16.Beyond the Music
Release date: July 29, 2016
Label: Epitaph Records
Reviewed by Chad Jensen
Stevenson had a giant blood clot removed from his lung and a softball-sized tumor removed from his brain a few years ago. Until the doctors figured out what was wrong with him, Stevenson just figured he’d become a fat, old, lame middle-aged man (Filmage).
Fortunately for Stevenson and the punk rock loving world, he has been rebuilt and new Descendents music has been unleashed on the world.
The group’s previous effort “Cool To Be You” was released on Fat Wreck Chords. For “Hypercaffium Spazzinate” and the band’s 5-song E.P. “Spazzhazard”, they returned to Epitaph Records, the label that released “Everything Sucks”, a live record and three ALL albums.
So, did the Descendents return with authority? Absolutely.
The new album begins with “Feel This”, a collaborative song with the words written by bassist Karl Alvarez and the music by guitarist Stephen Egerton. It hearkens back to the opening title track on “Everything Sucks”. Quick, brutal, and over before you know it.
The subject matter deals with the complicated emotions of losing a parent and rather than numbing the pain, wanting to “feel this” instead. Alvarez is one of punk rock’s best, and most underrated songwriters, and this song is his best contribution to the new record.
Each song on this album deals with issues far removed from farting, fishing and unrequited romance that defined the Descendents in the 1980’s. These dudes are now in their 50’s and the problems they face now are very different than the ones they raged about as teenagers and young adults.
Stevenson’s health scare, and how it affected his marriage, is chronicled on “Without Love” and “Spineless and Scarlett Red”.
Infidelity, death, credit rating, religious hypocrisy, cholesterol and overcoming depression and personal obstacles are all topics covered in-depth on “Hypercaffium Spazzinate”. Singer Milo Aukerman, who built two careers — one as a scientist and one as a musician — was laid off from his job at DuPont not long before the band recorded the new album.
The emotions Aukerman felt in losing his job and closing the book on what he had categorized as his “life’s work” as a scientist, are fleshed out on “Testosterone” and “Business AU”. If you purchased “Hypercaffium Spazzinate” Deluxe Version, you received the five songs featured on the “Spazzhazard” E.P. “Business AU” is one of them.
There are some very catchy songs on this album. When you hear Alverez’s frenetic bass lines, Egerton’s technical savvy on guitar, Stevenson’s signature drumming and Milo’s gravely vocal melodies, you know exactly what band you’re listening to.
For fans looking for “Milo Goes To College” or “Everything Sucks” Part II, you’ll be disappointed. This album springboards off “Cool To Be You”, in terms of its more mature subject matter and sophisticated songwriting.
As a 36-year-old with a mortgage and a family, that’s not a bad thing. I relate to these songs, and the vast majority of the Descendents’ fans will too.
My favorite tracks include “Feel This”, “Without Love”, “Spineless and Scarlett Red”, “Shameless Halo” and “Business AU”. The only song I felt wasn’t completely up to snuff on this record is the 40-second “Human Being”. But whatever.
With Milo Aukerman saying that he’s now focusing his professional efforts solely on the Descendents, perhaps we can look forward to this punk rock powerhouse returning to making music at a more prolific rate. They’ve been on the road supporting the new album, so get out and see them. And buy this record.
The world needs more Descendents music.