It's been over seven years since the lads in Buck-O-Nine have released a proper album, the last being 1999's Libido. The band certainly hasn't lost any of their spark however, and don't look like they intend on slowing down anytime soon. Releasing Sustain on Asian Man Records last month, they certainly know how to keep the party rolling.
If it's not quite clear to you from looking at the 'ska man' on the front cover of the album that you're in for one hell of a skanking time, it certainly will come apparent from listening to the first few seconds of album opener "I'm Not Dead." It bursts the album open with a great horn selection intro until it's overlapped with Buck-O-Nine's very distinguishable vocalist Jon Pebsworth, who sings the lyrics, "Make me wanna pop make me wanna go, if anybody's listening, it makes me wanna know." Next up is "Cook Me Into the Bowl," which was released on the band's MySpace previous to the album's release. Listening to the first few seconds of the song, what instantly springs to mind is Tim Armstrong's "Hold On" from his solo album A Poet's Life released earlier this year. The song is a definite highlight of the album; it's catchy and extremely upbeat, reminiscent of the band's hit single "My Town." The pace speeds up even more for the next song, "Screamin' from the Suburbs," which evidently starts off with the band slightly screaming the title of the track repeatedly. Definitely a good song, but one I find too repetitive for repeated listens.
"Lie to Me" starts off with a reggae-type feel which I can't help but sense would definitely suit a Mighty Mighty Bosstones song, only to be cut off once again with the band's unique vocals. This song definitely slashes the 'joyful' mood the album had going; it has a very dark, depressing feel about it which is backed up by the more serious grim vocal tone used. "Nothing Left to Lose" finds the band playing very fast ska with great horns, but the vocals don't seem to match up with the speed that the rest of the band is playing at. While I'm not sure if this was their intentions, it unexpectingly seems to pay off with an enjoyable song. The same can be said about "Less Than Comfortable," a good song which follows in the same vein as the rest of the album, even including a rap/reggae-inspired verse and an appealing guitar piece, backed up the band's typical ska beat. If it wasn't for the unique vocal parts at times, then you would be forgiven for mistaking "Slow Me Down" as a simple Reel Big Fish song. The intro of "I Am One" goes hand in hand with a lot of Mad Caddies reggae songs -- a great song to just sit there and chill to, letting the rhythm run wild through your body.
While your body is in the mindset of the reggae feel from the last song, you will quickly be picked up again with the next song and have you skanking in no time. With a very fast-paced, funky beat, "Silence" is over within 2:47, leaving you asking for more. The last song, "Let's Drink" starts off with a simple punk rock feel and never gets too much into the horns; it certainly features them but is never a huge part of the song, unlike many of the other tracks that feature a lot of horns on Sustain. The CD ends with the band singing, "Come on down and have a drink with me," a great way to end a great CD.
If you're a fan of third wave ska, or just ska-punk in general then it is quite likely you will get a lot of enjoyment from Sustain. It's a very fun, upbeat record; it isn't ground-breaking, but it is certainly done very well by one of the best bands within the ska-punk genre. It displays good doses of ska, reggae and punk rock, fusing it all together exceptionally well. If you were disappointed with Less Than Jake's latest effort because of the lack of ska, then this will certainly hold you over until Vinnie works out where the band went wrong.