Providence, Rhode Island’s the Down and Outs are bringing the mid-'90s skatepunk style back on their debut LP, Cacophony.
Though this disc isn't really a cacophony by any stretch of the imagination, the '90s EpiFat influences are unmistakable. Rolling rhythms, lightning palm mutes, and gang "whoa"s populate this album, which at 40 minutes runs on the longer side of such a style, though several of said minutes are dead air leading to the four-minute “secret” track, a cover of Paula Abdul’s 1988 hit single “Straight Up.”
Excessiveness seems to be the only real problem on an otherwise nice debut effort by the Down and Outs. The opening track “Villain” clocks in at 3:46, taking a minute-and-a-half to build before it finally gets going. On “Numbers” it takes nearly a minute, while on both “Bridges and Breakdowns” and “Hanging Up” there’s 45 seconds of chords progressions and drums before any vocals kick in. It’s not a huge complaint, but it’s kind of boring to listen to a minute of skatepunk before the catchy vocals and lyrics start to flesh out the song.
Oddly enough, the best track of the otherwise melodic skatepunk album is the discs’s sole ska-punk tune “All Because of You,” complete with a walking bassline and flickering upstrokes. The Bigwig-sounding “Sick of It All” is another highlight, amusing since drummer Adam F is wearing a Sick of It All T-shirt in the insert photos. The simple theme of “Sitting Down Drinking Beer” surprisingly translates into one of the catchiest tunes on the LP, while “Scarlet Letter” is a rather crass take on a gay rights song: “He’s just like you and me / He works behind a desk, dreams of having a family / But the difference you can’t see is on the weekends when he’s free he often fucks a guy named Steve / … / Fuck off he’s not your toy he can’t be molded into what you want him to be / So swallow your pride ‘cause he’s happy swallowing cock.”
The Down and Outs have all the formulas for catchy, melodic skatepunk. With a little refining and trimming the fat, these guys will be spot on with their followup to Cacophony.