Citizen Fish - Goods (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Citizen Fish

Goods (2011)

Alternative Tentacles

Since 1980, Dick Lucas, the lead singer for Citizen Fish, has released at least 22 full-lengths, 13 EPs, and innumerable singles. Although he was one of the original anarcho-punks, he's still preaching his energetic, anti-capitalism admonitions long after Crass, Anthrax, Poison Girls, Flux of Pink Indians and Antisect have ceased their assault on the corporate world. On Goods, Lucas and the rest of Citizen Fish seem to acknowledge that they might be losing the battle.

The cover of Goods states that even human emotions have become commodities, and from the lyrics, things are getting worse. Lucas announces that even he is a product on the shelf, both winking towards the homogenization of music as well as distancing himself from the scene. Subtlety has never interested the Fish, and they prefer to hit you over the head with the brick, urging people to "wake up" and trouncing the illusion of free speech. But, while mere sloganeering can get old fast, the band delivers its lyrics with such purpose and bona fide intention that they prove that bricks can do what reserved metaphors can't.

As is par for the course, the band rampages through the album mixing early hardcore punk with ska. Notably, the Citizen Fish version of ska seems equally informed by 2 tone as it does third wave: The tempo gallops along with clean upstrokes, but the horns are kept warm instead of being devices of pure blare, giving some of the tunes an almost soulful feel. While the album does keep a heavy finger on the ska scene, every so often the band dips into '40s jazz or driving metal, which makes the sudden changes that much more powerful.

The band cuts one of their most effective tunes they have ever recorded on "Marker Pen". Lucas spins a tale about the dreaded descent into a retirement and spits out a deceptively simple story that almost feels like he copped the idea and delivery from Dr. Seuss. But, of course, the Seuss didn't write about subverting the state*. Jasper, Matt and Alex combine their bass, trombone and trumpet into a singular sound, much in the manner of Philadelphia soul, and bring life to the song's subject, raising him from a eulogy to flesh and blood.

According to Goods, things don't look good. The outsourcing of jobs to areas rife with human rights violations is more prevalent than ever. The elderly get trounced upon. Even you, reader, aren't a person–you're a carbon-based commodity used for furthering economic goals. Citizen Fish and their ilk might be railing against these injustices, but after 31 years, ground is being lost. But hey, if we're all going down or getting shoved in boxes, why not do it to a jumpy ska tune, at least?

* - or did he...