Goldfinger - Goldfinger (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Goldfinger

Goldfinger (1996)

Mojo/Universal


From what I remember, Goldfinger was looked down upon when they seemingly came out of nowhere in 1996, having released only an EP before being signed to Mojo/Universal, and blowing up on the radio with the single “Here in Your Bedroom.” I remember hearing shit-talking from older punk fans I knew about how they were bandwagon jumpers and posers, loading a record with every punk-related genre they could think of--pop punk, hardcore, ska, comedy songs--to try to rise to fame with whatever would stick.

But I didn’t care about any of that when I first heard the aforementioned single on the radio in 1996, at age 14. It was the last year that I listened to commercial radio with any regularity. I have distinct memory of being out on my paper delivery job, being driven around by my mom as I chucked papers out the open minivan door, listening to Chicago’s then-popular “alternative” station Q101, waiting for Green Day and Rancid songs to come on. I was already getting into the pop punk stylings of the few bands I knew, and when Rancid added ska to the mix in “And Out Come the Wolves” it started opening me up to that genre as well. As far as my young, inexperienced ears could tell, Goldfinger was as authentic as any of them, and “Here in Your Bedroom” was just as “punk” as any of that. The song was a perfect blend of clean ska and slick, catchy punk choruses, with tight-ass-hell drums, a big plus for me as a budding drummer. Darrin Pfeiffer is a solid, hard hitting player, and the pop of that tightly-tuned snare drum with frequent rimshot cracks helped shape my drumming style for my youthful years, and caused me to break so many sticks.

“Mind’s Eye” opens the album with feedback, followed by a hard and fast tom-filled beat and the distorted vocals of John Feldmann but quickly opens up into a smooth pop melody. Alternating between my beloved double-time beats and toe-tapping choruses, this song had me hooked immediately. “Stay” was the perfect bouncy pop punk guitar rhythm to jump along to. “Only a Day” and “The City With Two Faces” tried out hardcore, and while it was definitely their weakest genre, at 15 I thought they were pretty badass songs. All the “fucks” in “City” didn’t retain their humor as I got older though, and come across as funny in a more embarrassing way today.

“King for a Day” slowed things down with a reggae groove to a fair amount of success. Also being a trombonist, I loved the horns and would soon after get into everything Dill and Moon Ska had to offer to hear more of them. Of course, the song breaks into distorted guitar and fast fills before its end, and I loved it. “Answers” goes for some minor key ska with more horns, but is not as successful and finds more aggro lyrics and tone in the chorus that I was not as much a fan of.

The album has hits throughout, and despite a few weaker tracks, Feldman was often a master of melody and the addictively catchy songs are placed perfectly as the album progresses: “Anxiety” at track 6, “Mable” at track 9 (love that drum intro and used to play it constantly), and “Miles Away” at 12. In the age of secret tracks and general silliness, the track prank call track “Phonecall” is still funny and “Fuck You and Your Cat” gives away the punchline in the title, but is a fine goofy ending to the album.

I could say that 1996 was the year I fully dove into punk. I was headed to Europe that summer for a school band trip and needed to fill my CD wallet with sweet tunes for my Discman on the flight over. My mom took me to Blockbuster Music (‘twas the 90s) where you could preview music. I wanted CDs from bands I’d heard OF but never actually heard: Bad Religion’s All Ages, NOFX’s Punk in Drublic, Sublime’s self-titled record. She wanted to preview Goldfinger at the listening station, and for good cause: it had a explicit lyrics sticker on it, and the artwork is concerning as well. She thought “Mable” and “My Girlfriend’s Shower Sucks” were hilarious, and it came home with me as well as the rest of my stack. Goldfinger’s debut is still is so listenable, and while they never had the street cred of their peers (or an album as good as this one), damn did they write some catchy songs on this album.