Apparently the Reaganomics include the guys from a band called Ryan's Hope. This lowered my expectations slightly, as I'd heard a few tracks of theirs and wasn't overly impressed. Still, different name, so different music was all I hoped for.
The Reaganomics quite clearly fit into the pop-punk genre, with an ethos that revolves around sing-along tunes, absolutely zero seriousness and some decent (and in places, highly amusing) lyrics. It's unfortunate for some bands to be lumped into a genre alongside a multitude of bands all doing basically the same sort of thing as it can stop them from actually achieving some sort of recognition. If you were to say to me the Reaganomics are like Cobra Skulls, then I'm likely not to listen to them as I don't rate the latter band at all. So, whilst the Reaganomics are probably a Second Division pop-punk band, what they have actually released does have something that pushes them towards the top of that second tier, showing the potential for a promotion.
On my first listen to Lower the Bar, I felt that it was overly long in terms of the number of tracks as opposed to time. There appeared to be too much filler, which could have been stripped out to still leave the band with a good 11- or 12-track record. However, as is often the way, repeated plays got me hooked into songs that didn't have that initial draw, with the result being that at 17 songs (in just under 30 minutes) this album seems to be right on track.
The album opens strongly with "Don't Worry, We'll Play First", which is speedily followed by "Ed Hardy", and then a song about Robocop, and why not?
"Chor an Idiot" invokes some Greg Graffin-esque vocals whilst conveying a message far from that which Bad Religion would be likely to put forth; even if Graffin did, it wouldn't be in such a succinct manner.
The songs keep coming thick and fast as the guitar blazes away and lyrics are delivered full of sarcasm, fun and/or loathing. "Stop Sending Me Evites to Your Shows" had me chuckling, but it was "Chireland" that really had me laughing and also clapping; yes, I actually applauded them for this song. Whether they are serious in their vitriol aimed at the fake Irish who seem to be everywhere in the world or it's just an act, they touched on something that I still don't understand–the general assumption that the Irish are wonderful people and we should love them all. What makes droves start wearing green on 17th March? Can't they drink themselves into oblivion on any day of the year? I suggest the masses don daffodils, dragons and leeks on 1st March as it's much cooler to be Welsh! Rant over, review continues...
"F.G.A. (Future Grandfathers of America)", again, shows that these guys can whip together a good tune with lyrics that, although are never going to challenge anyone cerebrally, will certainly cause merriment and the occasional laugh to be released.
The Reaganomics remind me of a number of current and former top-flight (First Division) pop-punk bands including NOFX, the Vandals and No Use for a Name (before the latter two began to suck) in places, but the main reference point for anyone wanting to find a similar approach would be 30 Foot Fall, who were capable of producing quality, fun pop-punk, amusing and lacking any sense of being overly serious.
This is a fun album, with a few tracks that have the potential for longevity about them, whilst some might fall by the wayside over coming months/years as with many albums. It's no classic, but will at times provide just what is needed to relieve the boredom of daily life and alleviate the drudgery that many have to cope with, and for that we must be thankful. Riding high near the top of the Second Division ain't a bad place to be.