One has to wonder if the guys in Dag Nasty got the urge to reunite after they saw a lot of their 80s [and earlier] companions getting the reunion bug. It seems like older and older bands are getting the notion that they can keep up with today's music trends. Some bands are holding up nicely, some bands are bombing out horribly. Where does Dag Nasty's first output in ten years fall? Somewhere in the middle.
To be honest, I couldn't tell you if this album is a return to form - I've never heard Dag Nasty before this album [yeah, yeah, I know - I'm not punk]. I had always heard stories about them, though. They were legends in the DC scene, they helped pioneer the now commonplace "emo" sound, their influence was widespread all over the world - I don't know about any of this.
What I do know is that this album is 12 tracks and 35 minutes of medium-grade skatepunk. Nothing on this album will make your jaw drop, but there are some damn good songs. The opener "Ghosts" does exactly what an opener should do - it gets you psyched up for the rest of the album. With it's fast paced tempo and catchy guitar work, it puts the majority of Epitaph and Fat's rosters to shame.
The title track is next, and does a good job of keeping the album's energy up. The chorus of "Question / Priorites / Don't trust / The majority / Even when you're a minority of one" is so goddamn catchy it will be in your dreams [swear to god, it was in mine last night]. Brian Baker's guitar solo is great, too, and it shows that he's been holding back some of his best licks from the Bad Religion boys.
"Bottle This" keeps the rock flowing with a slower tempo, but a much harder, driving guitar part. The well placed vocal harmonies in this song also sound great. The song takes a nosedive about 2 minutes in, though, when singer Dave Smalley finds it neccessary to deliver a broad, nonsensical spoken rant. When will that guy ever learn...
After this though, there's not much more outstanding material on the album. The band's contribution to the "Disarming Violence" compilation from a few years ago, "Incinerate," is on here. Unfortunately, I don't think it has been rerecorded at all, and you can tell, as the sound quality is drastically lower than the tracks surrounding it. The bass is barely audible in the song. It's still a great song, but if I was a Dag fan, I'd be mad that they included that song after it was already released.
The rest of the songs on this album sort of meld into one long skatepunk elevator music; nothing is dynamic enough to stand out from the rest of the pack. A lot of the songs have a definite Bad Religion feel to them, which makes sense since Brian "moonlights" in BR. My biggest complaint of this album [besides the pointless and worthless unlisted cover of Generation X's "100 Punks"] is Smalley's voice overall. He's been singing lead for close to 2 decades now with Dag, ALL, Down By Law, and the Sharpshooters, and his vocal delivery is still as nasal and overpronounced as ever. I can withstand it for the first few songs, but then it just grates on my nerves.
The album isn't bad, but it's nowhere near as astounding as people are making it out to be. I could see this being blared in skateparks across the country or on a crappy PA in between bands at a VFW show, but I can't see it changing the world any time soon.