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Jawbreaker - Unfun [reissue] (Cover Artwork)

Jawbreaker

Jawbreaker: Unfun [reissue]Unfun [reissue] (2010)
Blackball Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
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There really is no definitive album in Jawbreaker's discography, but in that sense, Unfun may be just as crucial as anything else in their catalogue. The spectacularly heralded, endlessly romanticized Bay Area punk band produced four full-lengths with so many widely ranging points of contention a.
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There really is no definitive album in Jawbreaker's discography, but in that sense, Unfun may be just as crucial as anything else in their catalogue.

The spectacularly heralded, endlessly romanticized Bay Area punk band produced four full-lengths with so many widely ranging points of contention among critics and fans regarding the band's musical trajectory and career decisions, it's left no one album to claim as the band's essential. If you ask Allmusic, they'll tell you 1993's 24 Hour Revenge Therapy is tops, with 1995's Dear You and 1990's Unfun in close range. Ask Steve Albini and he'll call it a "decent, if standard pop punk record of the type that was pretty common in the mid-90s"--and he produced the fucking thing. And if you navigate to Pitchfork, you'll see they took the time to shit all over Dear You--twice--before qualifying this recent reissue of the band's debut LP as "irrepressibly fun." Less jaded fans are probably prone to calling Dear You the classic; scene fixtures and musicians like Bob Nanna tend to place 24 Hour on said pedestal. In this reviewer's opinion, the band seemed to improve with every passing release (though the pronounced remaster on Unfun begs to differ the merits of said evaluation).

Still, though, trying to regard a place for Jawbreaker's first full-length within the canon of their catalogue seems near impossible, but that vague notion of status also makes it a little more vital to the full "Jawbreaker experience." In turn, perhaps that's what warrants a proper reissue of Unfun. Blackball's redux offers a remaster of the entire record, along with a bonus track--the 7" mix of "Busy." The band's 1989 EP, Whack & Blite, is here too, though it appeared on all original CD pressings anyhow. I don't believe the original 7" liner notes were replicated in the original Unfun booklet, however, and here they're represented for perusal in all their Xeroxed glory. Sound-wise, the remaster seems to add a little more "pop" to the overall mix; the percussive nuances are more distinct as well. As for the alternate "Busy" offered, Blake Schwarzenbach's voice seems a little sharper and the bass is turned up a bit, but it's largely not all that different.

Of course, the record itself has aged incredibly well. From Schwarzenbach's macadam-encrusted yelps on fan-favorite opener "Want" and the driven, emotional thrust on "Fine Day" that would hint at a career made on heartbreaking restraint, to the nimble, distortion-dipped fingering on "Busy" and Schwarzenbach's nasal, desperate commands on "Gutless" not to fall behind, its unfiltered, raw surge seemed relentless. Sure, the melodies were a little unrefined and the songs often stagnantly operated on the same rough, tumbling plane, but it still made for a bustling, impressive debut all the same. That it was a mere foundation for the ambitious, big hooks of 24 Hour and the polished moroseness of Dear You hardly hurts its relevance--Unfun was where they had the forward charge but still knew to occasionally proceed with caution. And hell, Whack & Blite closer, "Eye-5" was easily one of the most memorable songs in the front half of the band's catalogue, spiraling into an epic, sound clip-laden finish the band would rarely replicate in form for years.

So perhaps the minor bonus features here themselves are what makes Unfun just a little more essential, but the Jawbreaker chronology is still so overanalyzed and prodded at that missing out on any point could very well be remiss.

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Unfun (2010 Remastered Edition)

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
nedsammy (May 30, 2011)

Not a perfect album, but packed with amazing songs; the one I don't have to name, Down, Busy, Seethruskin, Fine Day. Gorgeous stuff. And Eye-5 truly is mindblowing, and a little terrifying.

Broski (August 9, 2010)

is this band anything like nickelback or that one rise against song about education haha me and the boys need some new weight room jams

R3vengeTherapy (August 9, 2010)

Out of their entire catalog, I always felt like this one never really got much love, when it deserves it. One of my favorite debut records from any band. "Want" is still just a fucking great song.

feeeding5000 (August 8, 2010)

24 Hour Revenge Therapy... possibly the best pop-punk album of all time. There is no bad song on that album, and it flows perfectly. It goes with any mood or emotion.
Unfun is second, in my book, followed by Etc., Bivouac, and Dear You last. "I, I, I, I, I, I, I waaaaaant yooooou."

hayman (August 8, 2010)

Love this record. I didn't find out about Jawbreaker till about 96 and started with dear you and was hooked. Found this about a year later and still listen to it a fair bit now.

thepopeofchili-town (August 8, 2010)

I'm in the "They got better with every album" camp. Orange Rhyming Dictionary is my favorite thing Schwarzenbach''s done, but the dude's never put out a bad album.

fuzzy (August 8, 2010)

Love JTB also. It's actually sad how Schwarzenbach seems to need to retread his late teens and early 20's with his new bands rather than moving forward from Jawbreaker and Jets to Brazil. Thorns of Life was embarrassingly horrible.

-Justin

misterspike (August 7, 2010)

24-Hour Revenge Therapy, FTW. As someone from this site once said, "It's an important argument"

ashtraymonument (August 7, 2010)

Fuckkkkk yessss

name (August 7, 2010)

i'm with regreteverything, Jets To Brazil > Jawbreaker. Orange Rhyming Dictionary at least, nothing else lived it up to it for me.

conebone69 (August 7, 2010)

Overall, Jawbreaker's worst album.

Which certainly isn't a bad thing since they're not Avenged Sevenfold or Weezer.

chadreligion (August 6, 2010)

Just listened to this the other night for the first time in a really long time,,, maybe about two girlfriends ago Long
It still stands just as it did before, and I will always love this record for the memories of listening to it at a much younger age and the the things I was doing at the time.
However, I have to say 24 Hour is probably the most seminal, Dear You is the more mainstream and polished, Bivouac the most eponymous, and Unfun the most punk rock. They just all hold there own in this whole, along with the live ep.

Jets To Brazil was amazing too.... Perfecting Loneliness is just about the perfect album they could have written.

torgo (August 6, 2010)

The correct answer is 24 > Unfun > Bivouac > Dear You , duh!

tofuatomic (August 6, 2010)

Picking the best Jawbreaker album is like trying to decide which Robert the Bruce you're gonna open out of the six pack first. Just grab one, they're all gonna be delicious.

regreteverything (August 6, 2010)

1. Dear You
2. Everything Else

And frankly, I much prefer Jets To brazil to Jawbreaker. Go ahead and revoke my scene card.

DrGunn (August 6, 2010)

1. 24 hour revenge therapy
2. dear you
3. bivouac
4. unfun

24 hours is, to my ears, by far their best album. i like unfun but it never really crosses the line from "good" to "great" the way their other stuff does.

Deadpan (August 6, 2010)

I just... I just don't like Jawbreaker. At all. There was a point when I thought I might be on the cusp of being able to enjoy Bivouac, but it never turned into anything more, kind of like dating someone you just know you're never going to be comfortable having sex with. So I gave up.

Tried streaming this now, as I've never really given it a chance, and as soon as the vocals came in, I switched off. I just can't.

I'll understand if this upsets people, apart from that one guy who hates Jawbreaker. I'm sorry. I just don't have it in me!

slymer (August 6, 2010)

Unfun was the first Jawbreaker album I ever bought/heard.

1. Dear You
2. 24 Hr
3. Unfun
4. Bivouac

fuzzy (August 6, 2010)

Reasons why this is probably their best album:
"Want".

Done.

"Dear You" is easily my least favorite. Rarely listen to it at all. Then again, being the "worst" Jawbreaker album is like placing third in the Olympics.

withoutbellson (August 6, 2010)

good album, but hopefully they will remaster 24 hour Revenge Therapy (?)

facetofacereunion08 (August 6, 2010)

the remastering sounds good imo

facetofacereunion08 (August 6, 2010)

i think etc is pretty damn good too although not an official original album. i'd go with 24

DuffB (August 6, 2010)

Bivouac is best.

monostereo (August 6, 2010)

Not only is 24 Hour the best Jawbreaker album, I think it should be in the conversation as one of the 10 best punk albums of ALL TIME. Unfun is great too though. Bivouac is definitely the most challenging listen of theirs. My guess is they'll reissue that one soon. Nicely written review!

hubitcherkokov (August 6, 2010)

Love the rest of 'em, but Unfun will always be my favorite Jawbreaker release.

adamvms (August 6, 2010)

By far my fav Jawbreaker album...

james_madison (August 6, 2010)

I'm probably one of the few holding this opinion, but 24 Hour is probably my least favorite of the four. Not that I think it sucks, it just didn't fully click for me the way the others did.

MN_DrNick (August 6, 2010)

Oh what a happy lad I was when my reissue of this came in the mail. Got both the CD and vinyl versions. They did an excellent job at the remastering of it as well.

Misanthropee (August 6, 2010)

Err, essential, not seminal.

Misanthropee (August 6, 2010)

Solid review; however I'm guessing if you took a poll, 24 Hour would blow all others away as to what people consider the "seminal" Jawbreaker release. That really jumped out at me as I've always thought there was zero debate about it.

jimmynorville (August 6, 2010)

24 Hour Revenge Therapy is my favorite.

Kolen009 (August 6, 2010)

Great review!

glacierfanclub (August 6, 2010)

Album is a five for eye-5 alone. One of their best works.

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