I recently noticed that, while there are several Discount album reviews on this site, no one had taken the initiative to write one for what is perhaps the crowning achievement of the band's legacy: their 1997 sophomore album Half Fiction.
Originally this album struck me in the same way as Bad Religion's Suffer: On those first few listens the songs are good, but many seem kind of indistinguishable. It isn't until you've let them sink in that you start to realize how amazing each song is. And just like Suffer, you realize that every song is incredible in its own right, and there isn't a throw-away in the bunch.
The album opens with the title track; a galloping pop-punk staple, accented with a tasteful octave lead (remember the days when those were possible?) and Alison's wordy-yet-beautifully-appropriate vocal delivery. The next two tracks ("Clap and Cough," "Torn Jeans") are knock-outs of sing-along catchiness.
With track six comes "Pocket Bomb." I was lucky enough to be at the band's last show in 2000 and, after an amazing set of 30 classics, this was the final song they played. Sure I'm biased since they were one of my favorite bands, but when they played this song it was one of the greatest live music moments I've ever experienced. The excitement of the crowd and the seemingly endless applause that followed (which was at the same time ecstatic and mournful) couldn't have been more moving.
The rest of the album continues with Discount's distinct energetic pop-punk, letting up at moments for the somber ballad "Toxic Home" and the darkly melodic "Dreamt This Was A Castle." "The Usual Bad" is a stand-out track, eloquently detailing the bullshit women have to put up with, but doing so without ever preaching or asking for sympathy.
This album brings back memories of a time when you weren't ashamed to say you were a fan of pop-punk; a time when pop-punk was a vital, intelligent genre with some meaning behind it; a time before pop-punk was called emo. Discount was one of the quintessential bands of that period. They didn't sound like Tilt, and certainly don't have any similarity to the Kills. They we're just three dudes and one girl who knew how to write some great melodic punk tunes.