Guttermouth - New Car Smell (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


New Car Smell (2016)

Rude Records

California snot punk bands are a dime a dozen. However, few of them can replicate the snark of The Vandals, and no one can do “Weird Al.” Somehow, throughout their career, Guttermouth has been able to nearly combine all three into a neat and tidy package. Earlier this year the band released an EP of their first new music in ten years and, now, they are a following up with New Car Smell, their second EP in less than six months.

Guttermouth’s most prevalent claim to fame is the un-PC content of their lyrics. The band hasn’t really changed with the times and their irreverence is still rooted in the late-80s/early-90s mind set of inappropriate subject matter. In some ways, change isn’t good, and their version of offensive is so mild nowadays, compared to other musical acts you can find out there.

Still, I can imagine a majority of people have moved on, and especially those involved now in social justice movements would definitely not be into this band. It is recommended that you stay away because if you won’t/don’t/or can’t listen to silly offensive songs without getting offended, then this is likely not even worth trying.

No less than four songs on this EP are related to disappointment/loss of affection for your partner. Whether they are growing too fat (“Spud Like Torso”), no longer novel (“Used Car Smell”), or so intrusive that you feel the need to order an uneducated woman who will not question your actions or be too nosey (“Mail Order Bride”).

Content aside, these songs are fast, fun, and fairly straightforward. The guitars blow out a few blazing solos now and then, and the percussion keeps the beat steadily, with fills and rolls when needed. Most notable is the bass, which is rolling up and down the fretboard most of the time, giving a rollicking sound to the songs. The production on the instrument-side is top notch and sounds very good, especially during the powerful palm muting sections (of which there are a lot).

Vocalist Mark Adkins, the only original member of the band, has a unique and fun voice. Like a used car salesman, his pitch is the silliness and frenetic pace which makes him seem more of a ringmaster than a lead vocalist.

Despite, or maybe because of, Adkins’ vocal acrobatics, the songs tend to end up sounding the same once you get all of the way to number six. Once again, this isn’t a terrible thing. Guttermouth is Guttermouth, and this album is definitely Guttermouth. But the repetitiveness does become noticeable, and it seems most of the time that the competent music is still taking second stage to the story that Adkins is singing to you.

Also, I previously mentioned how Adkins has a unique voice, and it is great when he is singing alone. While the album does feature backing vocals by other members, it sounds as if a majority of the backing vocals are comprised of Adkins overdubbing himself. When these backing sections come up, they also sound heavily processed and digitized. While this may work on a song or two, each track on the album features this to some degree (usually a lot), and it gets tiring about halfway through. It is possible to over-compose an album, and this has definitely happened here. Because of this, I have knocked half a star off the final rating. If they could’ve have tempered these backing vocals a bit, I think the EP as a whole would’ve turned out much better.

Love them or hate them, Guttermouth is back, and doing what they do best. If you liked what they did before, then this is right up your alley. If you are a fan of early Vandals, M.O.D., and other unapologetically crass bands, I recommend you give this one a try.