Reel Big Fish - Cheer Up (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Reel Big Fish

Cheer Up (2002)


Ok, the secret is out. Reel Big Fish is no longer a ska band. Sure, Cheer Up has that ska-sounding guitar thing down, but so did NOFX on "White Trash. They've got horns, but so does Rocket from the Crypt (and I dare you to call them ska). They've even got the silly ska band name, but that's just a red herring. So I tell you, "Cheer Up" is a rock'n'roll record, and a damn good one.

You'd expect a band that spends as much time on soundtracks as Aerosmith to keep cranking out the high royalty ska tracks; but the Fish back off, and concentrate on putting out a honed rock record. Tracks like "Where Have You Been" and "Brand New Hero" have a softer, almost alt-rock sound, while "Drunk Again", "New York, New York" and "Rock'n'Roll is Bitchin'" feature a variety of sounds and influences (Lionel Ritchie, Sinatra, and every hair band, respectively).

The trademark pop-punk-with-ska-leanings sound is ever present, but the pop-punk is turned way up, and the ska is definitely turned down. Like their previous records, Reel Big Fish's lyrics are always spot on, whether lyrically light, or painfully serious relationship deconstructions, and you can count on them to mix it up so the tracks on the record never sound alike – lyrically or musically.

I have to admit I'm a confessed Reel Big Fish cynic; after all, three albums, and massive evolutions in sound throughout rarely maintain the same fan base, but I can tell you that this record will not disappoint anyone who stuck by them.