Last year, I named Shook Ones' debut Sixteen as one of my top 20 picks of the year. Their brand of melodic hardcore immediately brought to mind favorites like Lifetime, Gorilla Biscuits and most noticeably, Kid Dynamite. While I throughly enjoyed the album, my impression was based more on expectations, in the sense that I saw this band capable of much more, and the thought of what they could accomplish made me highly anticipate their Revelation debut.
To say that vocalist Scott Freeman's voice sounds "similar" to Jay from Kid Dynamite is a vast understatement, but so what? Honestly, I love it. With their second full-length, Facetious Folly Feat, the band has started to build their own identity, taking away from the detractors that claim them as another "Philly/Jersey-core" band. If you can point me anywhere in punk/hardcore where there isn't some type of obvious influence, then, well, they probably aren't a punk/hardcore band. Fact of the matter is, this music is built on bands that love other bands, pick up some instruments, and start their own group.
Facetious Folly Feat is one of the best hardcore records of 2006. In a year that has already been one of the better ten months of great new music I can remember in recent history, I've noticed only a few great hardcore albums. Strike Anywhere's Dead FM, while outstaning on its own merit, focused on a more melodic and poppier approach. Sick of It All unleashed Death to Tyrants, which was received well, and at this point, my favorite hardcore album of the year was This Is Hell's Sundowning. Through all of these albums I noticed one thing, however...a real lack of that bouncy hardcore I love -- until now.
Kicking off the album is the highly energetic "Carms Race." After the breakdown into the slower, sing-along pace, the difference in just how far Shook Ones have progressed their sound becomes clear. But it really shines on the next track, "Pheasant," which showcases not only the faster temper they've always shown, but a new trick is thrown in the mix, something that seems to be that missing piece I was waiting for. Suddenly, it goes right into a mid-temp riff, leading to a full shout-along chorus complete with plenty of background "whoah"s, which I've always been a sucker for. Bridging with a simplistically appropriate same-tempo breakdown, it leads right back to the quick pace the track began with.
Maybe all that hooey-phooey I just explained sounds ridiculous, but for lack of better phrasing, it really explains just what the band has accomplished with this album: changes in tempo and pace that merge well, and add depth to the songs. Their forefathers of hardcore did the same thing. Your fast-paced verses, launching into the mid-tempo of thunderous choruses, complete with a full cast of shout-along backing vocals. It's a time-tested formula that Shook Ones have seemed to fully grasp and execute to near perfection.
The only real departure from what I expected/hoped for would be the song "Ebb and Flow." Only accompanied by a single electric guitar, Scott's vocals are put on full display. Though the idea works, I would have liked to see the song go right into full explosion of sorts, to contrast the stripped down nature it begins (and ends) with.
Of my favorites, I truly enjoyed "Virginia Beach Vanity Plate," which might be the funnest track the guys have ever laid down -- not to mention if you ever hear a song on record and just KNOW it will be a blast live, this is one those. Getting the nod as well would be "Ink Pen Shopping Spree," which is without question, my favorite Shook Ones jam to date. The "repeat factor" of this song is at about an eight (pretty constant in my car).
An album like this is really hard to explain and review. You feel like you've heard it before, but with that ear-to-ear grin of "yeah, I've heard this, and I sure as hell hope to keep hearing it again and again."