Yes, these guys are still around.
So many bands today promise a "return to form" album, with lo-fi production and writing songs like they once used to. They never deliver. Well, Nerf Herder, ironically, told no one (or maybe no one was listening), and managed to pull off a true roots album. The album is titled IV, but might as well be II, as it is a true sequel to their 12-year-old self-titled debut.
Nerf Herder's last two albums seemed to wander a bit too far into the "joke punk" category. While there were still a few gems, like "Cashmere" and "Vivian," the albums tended to go for easy nerd/pervert humor, and lacked that original Johnathan Richman "I'm just gonna sing about how awesome my entirely uneventful and pointless life is" songwriting that the original LP had.
IV kicks off with the stupid hilarious "Oh Me, Oh My," with its chorus of old granny substitute cursing. In "Garage Sale," Parry drags out a seemingly endless story of no consequence about junk at a garage sale. It's very reminiscent of MTX's "A Story About a Girl Who Went Shopping" or the Modern Lovers' "I'm Straight." Parry Gripp stresses every last detail before driving the punchline home and turning it into a clever, epicly mundane song. "Crocodile" makes no sense at all, but is performed with such conviction, you have to love it. This is classic Nerf Herder songwriting. Either you get it or you don't.
Aside from similar songwriting, the album itself has plenty of homages to the original self-titled album. "Golfshirt (Part 2)" speaks for itself. "Dianalee" is a callback to the girls that were name dropped in the first album, and "The Backpack Song" closes out the album just as confidently frivolous as "I Only Eat Candy" had.
A few things carried over from the last two albums, though: most noticeably, the tendency to have three or four songs that just don't work at all. "Dance" is a worthless track. "High School Reunion" is the kind of song where you look at the title and already know what it will be about and what kind of jokes will be in it, so it's kinda boring. "WTC #7" disappointed me big time, because I was hoping it was to be a song that rips on 9/11 truthers. Turns out, it's just another song about a girl and the chorus is literally just saying "World Trade Center #7" over and over. This album could have been stronger as only nine tracks instead of 12, and still break a half-hour, justifying its...LPness.
If you have fond memories of rocking out to Nerf Herder's self-titled, this is the perfect summer album. No way will it stand out to anyone by the end of the year, but this is classic nerd rock that nobody does anymore, so I for one am just plain happy that someone out there is still representing this insanely niche genre.