Some genres just won’t die. Pop-punk, although by no means as popular as in its mid/late Nineties heyday, has a curious and devout following; bands such as Less Than Jake and NOFX are capable of drawing huge crowds, despite the fact that they basically haven’t changed their music or T-shirts since the Gulf War. This is a genre whose proponents and fans stick to their guns with the stubbornness of a mule: a mutually beneficial zeal and notion of ‘selling out’ rendering them inseparable.
The music is unpretentious and simple; the themes of teenage disillusionment apparently still holding true for artists and fans who are often in their forties. Enter Zebrahead: the band that refuse to grow up. And, as to be expected, they’re also pretty adamant that they don’t give a fuck who knows it.
Incorporating rap-rock, metal and ska, Call Your Friends, Zebrahead’s tenth LP, is one that sees them harness their Tom Delonge-circa-1998 humour and style with reasonable success. There’s not that much wrong with it, but it is by no means one that wants a re-listen: it is a live sounding album by a live band and therefore will pretty much only work in a live setting. No problems there, there is no doubt that the kids will go completely mental to this: with hooks, palm muting and enough ‘I Don’t Give A Fuck’ lyrics to shake a stick at - the album is basically a recipe for a circle pit that's Delia Smith-like in its traditionalism.
Tracks such as ‘I’m Just Here for the Free Beer’ and ‘With Friends Like These Who Needs Herpes?’ pretty much sum up the record: carefree and juvenile but undeniably laden with passion and energy. The former’s lyrics are pure pop-punk: “I don’t give a fuck about your…” (insert word here and try to make it rhyme with the next inserted word). There are also a lot of semi, or possibly anti-political references throughout the record: the references are vague, and their sentiments hollow, but, again, Zebrahead make it clear that they don’t give a fuck about that either. There seem an awful lot of things that Zebrahead don’t give a fuck about.
So what do they give a fuck about? Only beer, circle pit-recipes and tits, if the Enema Of The State-style ‘Hot Girl’ album cover is anything to go by. It is by no means a failure: Zebrahead are good at what they do, make a living by doing so and if they want to continue recording the same tracks over and over for twenty five years, it is their prerogative. This sort of thing is popular for a reason: people like it for its identity and escapism, to lose themselves in a ‘rad’ circle pit and forget about their troubles - Zebrahead cater for this excellently. As for the rest of us, well, they don’t give a fuck.
5Jon Clark's Score