Well, I have Useless ID's new album. Following up their second Kung Fu release No Vacation From The World, which was a top 5 hit in Japan (believe it or not) and their spot on Rock Against Bush Vol. 2, I returned home with it after watching everyone's favourite Israeli pop-punk band (oh come on...) with about 19 other people. Hmmm, strange I thought. The last album sold reasonably well and by the sounds of it they haven't strayed from their sound much if at all and most people seemed to love "State Of Fear." Did everyone know something I didn't? Is this album a complete let down?
For the record, Useless ID were the first punk (so sue me) band I truly obsessed over. I have never anticipated an album as much I did with their first (Bad Story, Happy Ending) and bought up all their old vinyl releases. I even own a copy of Get In The Pita Bread Pit, which was limited to 500 copies and to this day is one of my favourite CDs ever. I just fell in love with their jumpy and punchy pop sensibilities. For me, their Kung Fu era has sounded like a combination of modern day NUFAN and 12 Exits Ataris, with NUFAN being the stronger similiarity. However, they do it so much better than what NUFAN have tried to turn into. Maybe it's a coincidence that this band have released a split with the Ataris, have Kris Roe guest and produce, and recorded a Tony Sly-penned track for their last album. Believe me, if you have a taste for today's pop-punk, I would be surprised if you could listen to any of their efforts without feeling the huge urge to sing along. Yotam has a great voice and can produce hooks without sounding screechy, whiny or high-pitched.
Anyway, I put the CD on the way back from seeing them feeling pretty nervous that I was going to be disappointed. The albums opens with "It's Alright," beginning with slow-picked strings at which point I had lost all hope of this being any good. Vocals coming in, wait...no. This is going to be a slow and flat album. Literally one minute later I was singing along, feeling relieved and in love again. Great opening track, and pretty similar sounding to their last two efforts. Cool...
By track 4 ("Deny It") I was in heaven. The songs are so simple (no moog on this album either) and catchy, even more so than the last one. Chris of the Gamits even adds some great vocals on "Deny It," which are a nice little touch. As for the following track, "Suffer For The Fame," this is by far the meatiest track on any of their last three full-lengths. Bill Stevenson has done a good job producing this and the best example is here, with a powerful and clear sound. Just check out the drums...wow.
By the end of the disc I was feeling less enthusiastic, however. Sure, "State Of Fear," "Drinkage," and "Dying Love" are all great songs too but numbers 7, 10 and 12 just didn't stick on me. And this is where the let-down to me was, although small. In short, after the opening 5 tracks, the second half is clearly weaker, and after so much promise, too. The other 2 efforts have been consistently good all the way through and never drag for a second. I went back to concentrate on those songs. Sure, they're okay. The title track is not fantastic, but a good closer nevertheless and "Everything Turned Red" is okay, not bad... but no one in the world would buy this CD off the back of hearing that track. I just feel track 7, "Before I Go," whilst at the same time, is not a bad song, but too much of a let-up on the energy and catchiness after the first half. It ruins the flow. In my opinion, a faster, shorter track in the vein of "State Of Fear" would have worked so much better. Fans know how well they do that style.
Don't get me wrong, this is a fantastic album. I moan too much I guess. That's part of reviewing perhaps. I am in love with this and it will not be leaving my CD player for a few weeks. In summary, if you liked either of the 2 previous albums, you will like this. If you like modern day NUFAN, give them a shot. Useless ID have produced the stronger album this year.