Guttermouth - Got it Made (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Got it Made (2016)

Rude records

In the ten years since Guttermouth’s last release, Adkins has replaced all the members of the band, meaning Adkins is the only member of the band to have appeared on the last Guttermouth album, Shave the Planet. That means we’ve essentially reached the point where Guttermouth is Mark Adkins’s solo project. But the world has changed a lot since 2006 as well, and Adkins’s brand of frequently offensive humor has not. The album’s theme seems to be bragging about being an asshole—especially to women—and as the opening track, “The Point,” closes out with a voicemail of a woman cussing out Adkins for not returning her phone calls and saying that she hopes his plane crashes, you begin to wonder if this is something that was created in the studio, or something that Mark Adkins actually found on his personal voicemail.

Musically, this is one of Guttermouth’s most rollickingly energetic albums, if not their most musically diverse, stringing together six songs of fast-paced, upbeat songs that sound like they were recorded by a band that’s genuinely having a good time. The album actually brought to mind a local band from here in Denver that I used to absolutely love called Truckasaurus (who unfortunately broke up a few years ago) in that there’s a childish and almost maniacal glee to the music and to the inflection in the vocals. (For the record, I checked with Truckasaurus’s lead singer, Robot, and yes, they have opened for Guttermouth, and when I told him that the new Guttermouth EP reminded me of his now defunct band, he said that he considers that a “great compliment.”) The difference is, when Truckasaurus used that maniacal glee to sing about doing terrible things, I knew that they were kidding because they were too far fetched to be believable, and I knew that their lead singer was the polar opposite of his stage persona. Adkins, on the other hand, makes the joke more awkward, as he never goes beyond the realm of believability, and his very publicized antics leave you wondering how much, if any, of the lyrics on Got it Made are exaggerated.

“Freckles the Pony” is some of the most unabashed misogyny I’ve heard in a punk song in a long time (Skinhead Rob of The Transplants not withstanding), with Adkins at one point bemoaning the fact that he can’t punch his girlfriend because he’s too much of a “gentleman.” The song leans too hard on the tired shtick of telling dirty jokes and leaving out the dirty word at the end of the joke, but making it obvious what the word was supposed to be based on the rhyme scheme. “Shitty Situation” seems to be about hitting on/sleeping with women as a ploy to rob them. “Old Man” offers us some of Adkins’s nastiest lyrics in a long time, as the chorus declares: “Your wife is an inbred who married an idiot/It’s no surprise that your kids are deformed.” Whoever the song is about, he takes a sadistic pleasure in their situation, which he admits to having caused as he sings “Good luck with the debt and the mess I left you in./And in my will it will just say ‘Go to hell.’“

It’s easy to shrug off these lyrics as just punk rock offensiveness, but I offer a few counterpoints to that. First, the punk tradition of pushing the boundaries of good taste was supposed to be to attack institutions of power and the status quo, not just to be petty and cruel to specific individuals. But also, we have to keep in mind the fact that Adkins’s antics got Guttermouth banned from almost every venue of their 2013 Australian tour, and at one point, during a short hiatus for the band, he moved to Mexico essentially to escape a suburban life in a stable relationship and wound up penniless in a Mexican prison. Sure, you can cite G.G. Allin and Sid Vicious and their extreme, punk lifestyles, but Adkins is no G.G. Allin, Guttermouth is no Sex Pistols, and anyway, both of those people never lived to see 40, so why are we treating them like role models? Maybe Joe Strummer was right that punk rock isn’t about being an asshole anymore. Maybe four decades into it, there’s something more to the genre than endorsing bad behavior. So as Mark Adkins starts to brag about his toxic personality on Got it Made, it becomes hard to see it as some funny punk rock joke, and instead starts to feel like we, as the audience, are enabling him. How much you’ll enjoy Got it Made will largely depend on how much tolerance you have for that.

Guttermouth is one of those bands that a lot of people like, but nobody really loves. I’ve never met anyone who claims Guttermouth as their favorite band, but I would like to meet someone like that who is so passionately dedicated to mediocrity. I imagine someone whose favorite TV show is 2 Broke Girls, whose favorite movie is The Godfather Part III, and whose favorite cocktail is a warm Bud Light. Got it Made continues in Guttermouth’s tradition of mediocre hardcore, albeit with a renewed energy. It can actually be a pretty fun, if monotonous, album in the end, as long as you either ignore what the lyrics are saying, or you just don’t care.