Reel Big Fish - We're Not Happy 'Til You're Not Happy (Cover Artwork)

Reel Big Fish

Reel Big Fish: We're Not Happy 'Til You're Not HappyWe're Not Happy 'Til You're Not Happy (2005)
Sony Music

Reviewer Rating: 2.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: KirbyPuckettKirbyPuckett
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Music trends come and go; for the most part, the major ska acts of the 1996 boom have vanished. Goldfinger's latest release Disconnection Notice proves that they're dead to me. Save Ferris, who? Lastly, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones are encompassed by a large question mark. That leaves Orange County's.
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Music trends come and go; for the most part, the major ska acts of the 1996 boom have vanished. Goldfinger's latest release Disconnection Notice proves that they're dead to me. Save Ferris, who? Lastly, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones are encompassed by a large question mark. That leaves Orange County's mighty pop-punk-ska act Reel Big Fish as the last standing mecca from the era. Despite several lineup changes spanning their decade in existence, the band has prepared yet another quality upbeat record just in time for the summer season.

Carrying the torch from 2002's Cheer Up!, Reel Big Fish are clearly a rock‚??n'roll band who often get confused for a ska act, with plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor. Without ever taking themselves too seriously, We're Not Happy 'Til You're Not Happy manages to pad the sugary choruses with much more substance than songs about tube tops. Many will find gratitude in this release as the servicing of the brass instruments is much more apparent for the first time in years. RBF have made a career of shelling out potshots to the music industry ("Sellout," "Trendy") and several new cuts continue to tread on familiar ground.

The album's opener "The Fire" is a bold starter to the record, as the wind section comes out of the gates full blast, proudly sporting their ska tendencies coupled with a solid mix of pop-rock. Punchy horns and a danceable beat make leeway for "Drinkin'" to climb into the ranks of crowd favorites. "Don't Start A Band" is the sincere and angry sequel to the song that launched RBF into stardom, "Sellout." The recording industry resentment continues on "We Hate It‚?¶," "Turn The Radio Off," and "One Hit Wonderful." Even with the lyrics dabbing into recycled content bins from the past three albums, the songs still deliver a salubrious listen.

Although We're Not Happy 'Til You're Not Happy is a staple release from Reel Big Fish, there is a significant defect holding it back from the significance of Turn The Radio Off and Why Do They Rock So Hard? Throughout the entire fifteen tracks Aaron's voice sounds as if his mic is a Campbell's Soup can, and it's not mmm mmm good. The vocals are also really low in the mix; perhaps the zany front man Aaron Barrett is starting to feel the strain of splitting time between RBF and the Forces of Evil.

"Talkin' Bout A Revolution," made famous by Tracy Chapman, is the record's touted first single, gliding on reggae guitars and a hand-clapping drumbeat. It's not their best work on a cover song; muffled vocals similar to their rendition of "Gigantic" by the Pixies really hamper the experience. Quite a bit of speculation and bickering was stirred up about the Fish re-recording their classic "Beer;" well, thankfully that was cut (trust me, you're not missing anything) and replaced with a bubbly and mellow yet brassy rendition of Social Distortion's "Story Of My Life."

What originally made Reel Big Fish so appealing was their unique and energetic twist on both rock and ska; circa 2005 they still possess those traits, but on We're Not Happy ‚??Til You're Not Happy the fun is apparently decelerating. The record finds a niche nicely within the band's discography, even if it is near the bottom of the heap with fading themes, wit, and originality. The first few listens are worthy, but replay-ability, which dogged Cheer Up!, is once again instilled on this disc.


People who liked this also liked:
Reel Big Fish - Turn The Radio OffStreetlight Manifesto - Everything Goes NumbLess Than Jake - Hello RockviewReel Big Fish - Why Do They Rock So Hard?Rise Against - Siren Song Of The Counter CultureBad Religion - The Dissent of ManCatch 22 - Keasbey NightsStreetlight Manifesto - Keasbey NightsRefused - The Shape of Punk to ComeThe Clash - London Calling

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
brettie_spaghetti (May 23, 2006)

This CD was much better than Cheer up! Reel Big Fish is definately headed in a better direction.

clarinetboy (February 4, 2006)

im starting to listen to this album again, and its great!

in the beginning i compared it to other things, but now i just listen to it for what it is.

the upbeat songs are catchy as hell, and the slower 2-tone influenced are recorded extemely well and have a unique feel. this is middle aged "kids" making a fun listen.

Anonymous (December 25, 2005)

I bought this and watched them live at Bristol Carling. It sounds so much fucking better at a gig. The songs seem bland on the cd. Speed them up and at some skankin, it seems alright then.

Anonymous (November 18, 2005)

Yeah this album rocks, stop being haters.

davebrave4 (July 16, 2005)

I just bought the cd last night and I have listened to it only a couple times since then, but here are my views: WDTRSH? is my favorite album in the world-and I have quite an extensive collection. Although this disc cannot even compare with WDTRSH?, I still think it is a solid album. They manage to keep a good balance of funny and sentimental songs, and musically they keep both rock and ska aspects. I can see whay you guys mean about how they shouldn't cover Social D, but I think they managed to put their own spin on a great song. However, I wish there were way fewer covers on this album. Covers are pretty uncreative. For those of you asking why everyone hates Cheer Up!, it's because it supposedly has too much rock influence and not enough ska. This album does not hold my attention for as long as WDTRSH? does, but I think I'll still be listening to it for a while.

Anonymous (June 4, 2005)

Biggest disappointment of '05 for sure. Even 'Disconection Notice' (Goldfinger) was better.

iheartagainstme (April 21, 2005)

too bad they dont have a "wind section", its a brass section.

p.s.- it's much better than cheer up!

NoUse4aScnName00 (April 11, 2005)

Good CD that grows on you. It's the same of the old but did you really want anything other than Reel Big Fish. It's a band that I don't expect to change. They care too much about having a good time than to please the critics. Musically it is nothing different than "Why Do They Rock So Hard". It is good for fans who disliked "Cheer Up!". Personally Cheer Up was my favorite. To me it proved that Reel Big Fish was more of a straight-up rock band that had horns rather than a trendy ska band. Thanks for another one RBF.

Anonymous (April 11, 2005)

Since these guys can joke about themselves, I think they should make fun of the current trend. Their next video should have all band members dressed up in tight black t-shirts, tight ass fancy-vintage-looking girl jeans, and all with black wigs cut in the shape of Luke Skywalker's hair. Complete with girly dancing and funny posturing. It would have to be REALLY over the top though, because when I see bands really doing this and taking them serious, I can't tell half the time (cough*fromfirsttolast*cough)

Anonymous (April 11, 2005)

after 2 weeks i love it. No, it is not as good as their first two albums, but did you ever really expect them to top that? i mean really, those albums were defining albums of the 3rd wave late 90's ska explosion. this album is about as close is they will ever get to recapturing that sound and feel.

much better than cheer up, and some of the songs are on par w/ anything theyve done before (drinkin, turn the radio off, bad guy and a few other would have fit nicely on either of their first 2 albums...and stood out at that.)

one hit wonderful and the social d cover are the only dud's on the album as far as i'm concerned.


Anonymous (April 11, 2005)

Yeah, after a week or so of it..it's not as bad as I first said...but I still don't think it's up there with TTRO or WDTRSH?

i-type-poorly (April 10, 2005)

After two weeks with this album. The Fire, Last Show, and The Bad Guy. Have already made their way up the ranks to be some of my all time favorite RBF songs.

Anonymous (April 9, 2005)

I don't hate these and I wouldn't call myself a fan, but I give them credit for their social D cover. They pay the song respect while still making it their own.

Anonymous (April 8, 2005)

i like ska but im just afraid to admit it

vocalyouth (April 8, 2005)

score is for cover art.

better when five iron frenzy did the exact same thing 5 years ago.

thirtyseconds (April 7, 2005)

geart badn, shit live. i'll but ethid though. when sobet.

swingline (April 7, 2005)

i've disliked this band for a long long time. much longer than j-lo but my hate is much more intense towards j-lo.

Anonymous (April 7, 2005)

Calling London is right. Ska is still great. If you think you've outgrown it or are too cool for it anymore, than you're lame.

I'm going out to buy this album right now. GOOD DAY SIR!

Anonymous (April 7, 2005)

"I have a theory that the title may be directed to the label"

I have a theory that they just reworded Despair, Inc's slogan.


Anonymous (April 7, 2005)

yea cheer up was solid, but it lacked cohesion (especially the second half..its like instrumental salsa song, sublime cover, goofy hairmetal song, vocal only sinatra cover, song sung by scott....WTF?!) but the middle of cheer up had some solid songs...tracks 5-8 were all pretty good. but the album just lacked a direction and ska. this album has more of the classic rbf feel, the stripped down production is cool too. the covers are all good, but like i said, don't go there w/ social D. definately way better than goldfingers new album for sure. god that thing is shit.


Anonymous (April 7, 2005)

this cd is actually really good, if you like reel big fish. much more ska and like their old style than 'cheer up' although 3 covers is a bit excessive. and the social D one...you just shouldnt go there. no one should cover 'story of my life'. period. its like when some shitty local band covers op ivy 'soundsystem' and all you want to do is break their legs. not that bad but close. but yea the cd rules.


Anonymous (April 7, 2005)

Hmm...interesting. I liked all of their previous albums, but I think this one needs some time to grow on me. At least they tried something different though. By the way, why all of the Cheer Up! bashing? It's a great record.

Anonymous (April 7, 2005)

score is for the 1999 numetal cover art and text.

stevejonestherealbones (April 7, 2005)

i dont know tahoe.... as far as i can tell, it seems like this record label pretty much leaves them alone to do what they want...which is a pretty sweet deal, if anything, they would be pissed that the label doesnt promote the band on radio and stuff..i mean, as far as i can tell, but i dont listen to the radio too much

- jones the bones

TahoeJeff (April 7, 2005)

I have a theory that the title may be directed to the label. RBF were on Mojo. Mojo gets sold. So now Their stuck on Jive with boy bands and pop shit. Now I don't know if they have a certain number of albums to make for Jive, but perhaps this is the "Hey! Fuck off, we're going to play what we want" "we're going to cover 3 songs, and make then better than the originals"ok....Story of my life..not better...but 2 out of 3 aint bad...

Anonymous (April 7, 2005)

To those complaining about Aaron's vocals and other such production problems -- it should be noted that Mr. Barrett himself produced the album.

Don't quit your day job, buddy.

Anonymous (April 6, 2005)

Reel Big Fish aren't happy until I am, and I'm not happy.

I was looking forward to this release, and I'm really disappointed. The songs are rushed and lazy and way too many of past lyrics/material seems to be recycled, (the whole ‚??I‚??m such an asshole, I hope you die, we aren‚??t cool‚?Ě-shtick) and it‚??s not even humorous anymore by their 4th full-length.

I think RBF is past their prime. I still enjoy TTRO and WDTRSH? Cheer Up was okay‚?¶not very cohesive, but it seemed to have some kick behind it, and we didn‚??t get the Aaron-signing-in-a-soda-can effect on half the songs.

I regret buying this.

CallingLondon (April 6, 2005)

and, you know, i find myself listening to ska a lot, again. i can't take the angst of new music. aaron may bitch in his lyrics, but the music is fun, and doesn't make me want to kill myself. god bless ska.

CallingLondon (April 6, 2005)

yeah, this album is great.

Anonymous (April 6, 2005)

Roxk so hard is the best RBF album. I'm not so arrogant as to say that's not opinion, but if you think differently, you are probably wasting your time reading this review.

TahoeJeff (April 6, 2005)

The more I listen to it, the more I like it. I suspect that this will be the case for many people. Cheer Up was the same way, at first I was like "WTF?" but I ended up liking it alot....I'm still not sure what everybody has against it. Its a great album.

Anonymous (April 6, 2005)

"We know you don't like ska. Shut up."

i like some ska

op. ivy is cool
hepcat is cool
even some rxbandits shit is cool

reel big fish is fucking horrible

-the other scott

Chason (April 6, 2005)

i have no say on this album...i haven't listened to it. but whoever said mustard plug and rbf are the same thing, you are CRAZY.

Anonymous (April 6, 2005)

To the guy way way below who asked how many covers are on here, it's three. "Talkin' 'Bout Revolution" by Tracy Chapman, "We Hate It..." by Morrissey, and "Story of My Life" by Social Distortion.

Anonymous (April 6, 2005)

ewwwww...reel big fish. mustard plug..is all the same to me.

Anonymous (April 6, 2005)

It seems like no one gave this record a shot.

Everyone went into wanting to hate it.

We know you don't like ska. Shut up.

CallingLondon (April 6, 2005)

i haven't listened to all the songs yet, but this CD is damn good so far. far better than cheer up. I really like the toned down, even gritty, production too. Humbles the music in my opinion, which is good. It almost feels like i'm back in high school. The covers are great, and the originals sound fresh. It seems like they're experimenting a little wtih their songwriting, too. I'm happy with it. so far.

kirbypuckett (April 6, 2005)

it seems like you liked the cd, from what i can tell, but it only got a 5. kinda odd.

I'm a huge RBF fan and I really do enjoy parts of this, but I have to urge to keep listening to it.

It doesn't stick like their older material.

If I take out the songs I like and make a mix, I'm content.

- Kirby

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

Ok im the guy below me i just forgot something...the score down there is for the album and the score i put on this box is for the cover art and the album name

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

i dunno but i have always liked Reel Big Fish work...also Save Ferris, Less than jake (gotta love Less than jake),and the bosstones. Im expecting this to be pretty good (despite the 5) and anyways i agree with a dude a couple of post below it will be one of those fun summer albums (like most of the fishes work if u ask me) and about the Aaron thing well i dont think he wants u to take it so seriously

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

Step 1: Something is cool. This something gets respect.
Step 2: Time passes.
Step 3: Now it is cool to hate it.

joeg (April 5, 2005)

I was never really a big rbf to begin with. they were always a little too high on the cheese factor for me.

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

At first I thought all of the "I hate major labels and the radio" stuff on the first few records was funny, but now I see it's part of a larger "I hate anyone who doesn't love my record."

Seriously, Aaron's thing (http://www.reel-big-fish.com/aaron/) makes him sound like an insecure crybaby.

Some people aren't going to like your music. That doesn't mean every fucking song has to be about how lame they are.

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

fuck this band
fuck this band right now
fuck this band back in the day

these guys were like good charlotte for the fucking ska era

-the other scott

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

I can still remember the joy of buying Turn the Radio Off back in high school as I blasted it in my 83 cougar. As a result, RBF has held a special place in my heart and I greatly anticipated this disc as the others. I did not enjoy Cheer Up at all, but I gave this disc a try (for old time's sake) and it is the greatest birthday gift I could ask for. Not their best cd, but it sure is fucking fun!! WELCOME BACK!!!!

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

This album has some pretty fun songs, and is a lot more cohesive than Cheer Up.

It's gonna be a fun summer album.

boba_fett (April 5, 2005)

it seems like you liked the cd, from what i can tell, but it only got a 5. kinda odd.

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

Yeah that's me from the 'Burgh, let's do it paul.


I'm reviewing Hot Hot Heat?


Yeah, yeah, yeah Everything Sucks is their first album, but it's practically a demo for Turn the Radio Off


I didn't mention Less Than Jake in the opening because they never 'made' it. I love LTJ and they are probably the greatest ska band of the 3rd wave, but they never hit the mainstream like RBF, Goldfinger, and the Bosstones did.

- Kirby

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

score is for titties. love 'em.

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

this score is for big fish and johnny depp and ska being way cooler than this new new wave 80's techno garbagio


Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

No Use For A Name 's new album, Keep Them Confused, comes out on June 18th. It will contain 13 dark, aggressive new songs (two of which were originally written in the Making Friends era). Prepare to be rocked.

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

"This score is for Tim Burton, whether you like "Big Fish" or not. I think it's wonderful."

My score is for people who don't care about scripts, only visuals.

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

Ok, someone help me out here. How many covers are on this cd? It seems like every song I like and think is original ends up being a cover. Originally I thought Revolution was the only cover and since then I have found 3 others. I really like the cd but it has way to many covers, so someone please tell me what songs are covers.

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

This score is for Tim Burton, whether you like "Big Fish" or not. I think it's wonderful.

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

"This score is for the movie "Big Fish"." (five stars)

------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Planet Of The Apes. The only Tim Burton movie WORSE than Big Fish.
Big Fish is totally overrated, boring, and simply sucks.
Score is for Big Fish.

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

This score is for Reel Big Fish's decline since the late 90's.

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

This score is for the movie "Big Fish".

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

cover art sucks!

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)


Props to Mustard Plug for starting before the ska boom (way before the ska boom) and continuing to play out and release records in 2005.


Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

"Goldfinger‚??s latest release Disconnection Notice proves that they‚??re dead to me"

i've only read two lines of the reveiw so far, but scores for your opening

ps. aren't you from the burgh kirby? when am i gonna fuck you up in nhl96 or 95??


Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

Turn the radio off was not their first album!
What about everything sucks?
These guys got rocked off the stage by rx bandits last time I saw them anyways.
They will just tour with like lucky boys confusion and suburban faggots again and aaron barrett will die of a heroin overdose.

skankin_in_the_pit (April 5, 2005)

"That leaves Orange County‚??s mighty pop-punk-ska act Reel Big Fish as the last standing mecca from the era."

Buck-O-Nine is working on new material, and Mustard Plug still plays shows all the time. Both those bands are, and always were, so much better than RBF, Save Ferris, or Goldfinger. Did they not sell enough records to be considered part of that boom?

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

"That leaves Orange County‚??s mighty pop-punk-ska act Reel Big Fish as the last standing mecca from the era."

You know nothing.

i-type-poorly (April 5, 2005)

Check out Aaron's take on the cd...

Either you get RBF or you don't. They've always been halfway subtle with the "i hate your fucking guts (and my own too)" attitude set to pop, or at least enough to get people thinking they were nothing more than a silly ska-punk act. Well on this album, the message is right in the listener's face. The titles, tone of the vocals, abrasiveness of the sound... By no means is this their best album musically, but the theme is strong, and almost every song important. I like how Aaron dropped most of his mock hair metal rebel yells for this John Reis style of off the cuff "losing control of the tone of your voice" freakouts in some songs. It's more fitting to the content.

Inspection12e (April 5, 2005)

Wheres the Hot Hot Heat review Kirby?

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

"That leaves Orange County‚??s mighty pop-punk-ska act Reel Big Fish as the last standing mecca from the era"

What about Less Than Jake? They are from the same era and I'd say currently doing better than any of the bands you mentioned.

However, if the Bosstones (who are THE band from this era) do tour again that would go over very well.

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

"This is by far the worst RBF record... i'd give it a 2...theyre starting to sound worse than the crappy 3rd wave ska bands who rip them off."

this made me laugh out loud at work. are rbf somehow not a 3rd wave band? fuck it, bust out some telegraph, exceptions or parka kings, detroit owned ska 10 years ago, and all of that shit is still better than rbf

LMChc (April 5, 2005)

title seems like a ripoff of a toxic narcotic song

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

This is better than Cheer Up!

i-type-poorly (April 5, 2005)

Score's for the cover. Five Iron Frenzy did the same thing in FiF2:EB.

No comment about the lyrics in this review? The band is more jaded than ever now! Fans of Everything Sucks and WHITETRASH should be able to "get" this album, while everyone else seems to be wondering where all the goofy silly fun is (sans AWESOME).

If this is their last album, looks like a fitting end. My only complaints about it are the Smash Mouthy SD cover, and "The Joke's On Me", which just goes nowhere.

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

The Bosstones do rule. And the new Avoid One Thing is surprisingly good.

sickboi (April 5, 2005)

Jesse, the Bosstones rule. Take the indie rock stick outta your ass.

RBF, however, had one good album, fucking 10 years ago.

Eddie (April 5, 2005)

"Throughout the entire fifteen tracks Aaron‚??s voice sounds as if his mic is a Campbell's Soup can, and it‚??s not mmm mmm good."

hahahahaha oh man, that is the best line of any review ever.

anyways, I still dig RBF (Cheer Up was pretty good), but won't be picking this up any time soon...I really don't like that cover art.

also, I thought "This Fire" was the first single?

iheartadam (April 5, 2005)

Just going out on a limb here and saying that this band sucks elf cock.

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

cheer up! was better than this one, so that is not saying much

TheOneTrueBill (April 5, 2005)

Bosstones rule.

Jesse (April 5, 2005)

Dude, all those bands you mentioned in the intro suck.

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

it should be noted that "we hate it..." is a morrissey cover.

lou (April 5, 2005)

i will pretty much always enjoy rbf, even if only for the nostalgia factor.

lostinthecrowd13 (April 5, 2005)

This band released their best two cds first and have gone downhill since then. This cd is good if you liked Cheer Up. If you're a Turn The Radio Off and Why Do They Rock So Hard? fan then don't bother with this cd.

andrew13 (April 5, 2005)

i enjoyed it... not as good as their older stuff, but still better than a lot (99.9%) of so called music that is out today on majors...

stevejonestherealbones (April 5, 2005)

while i was using my mental powers, i also added an 'e' between the 's' and the 'k' in basketball

- jones the bones

- stevejones8770@yahoo.com

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

subract the period from the end of that last comment and add a question mark with your mind powers.

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

I just watched basketball the other day and couldn't stop laughing every time RBF came on screen. What the fuck happended to Ska-punk? It's like the 80s hair metal of the 90s. It was huge and then it just sort of died out. And holy shit was it bad. I mean, I loved it at the time, but listening to some of those old cds I have of Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, Mustard Plug and the like and I just can't help but ask myself, "What the fuck were we all thinking."

stevejonestherealbones (April 5, 2005)

i like the font on the album cover...what does that remind me of? some horror movie or something? is it familiar to anyone else?

anyway, that was a cute little cambel's reference...made me smile but shake my head and say "how gay" at the same time...score is for that reaction..i like that reaction

- jones the bones

- stevejones8770@yahoo.com

KB (April 5, 2005)

I like this album. Sure, its not quite on the level with "Turn The Radio Off" but how many 5th albums are as good as a band's first album? The first time I listened to this album I wasnt entirely impressed, but after listening to it a couple more times it quickly grew on me. Basically, if you've ever been a fan of Reel Big Fish, you'll probably like this album, but if you arent entirely familiar with the band this is probably not the album to start with.

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

This is by far the worst RBF record... i'd give it a 2...theyre starting to sound worse than the crappy 3rd wave ska bands who rip them off.

TheOneTrueBill (April 5, 2005)

So is it better than Cheer Up? That one left almost no impression on me.

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