88 Fingers Louie - Thank You for Being a Friend (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

88 Fingers Louie

Thank You for Being a Friend (2017)

Bird Attack Records

Last year, Descendents set the new standard for old guys making a punk record more than ten years after their previous one. They dealt mostly with their current situation, but also included an acceptable amount of sentimental nostalgia. Whether they knew it or not, the slightly younger old guys in 88 Fingers Louie largely followed the same formula. Thank You for Being a Friend mainly exists in middle aged reality, but occasionally takes the time to look back.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 19 years since 88FL’s last full length. Musically, Thank You for Being a Friend picks up right where 1998’s Back on the Street left off. Denis Buckley’s distinctive voice still sounds great. Mr.Precision’s metal tinged riffs are still razor sharp. Newer bass player Nat Wright and longtime drummer John Carroll form a powerful rhythm section. Lyrically, it’s definitely more world weary. The songs chronicle broken hearts and broken dreams. Overall, it has everything you’ve come to expect from an 88 Fingers Louie album.

“Meds” starts things off with a tale of depression and failing health. “Advice Column” asks ‘what’s the fun of living in the past’ and plainly states ‘we’re still changing’. The first two songs really pack a punch. “Knock It Off” and “Turned to Grey” are a couple of songs about failed relationships. “All the Right Words” seems to be about finding love again. “Here’s To That Innocence” allows the band to fondly reminisce. There’s great intensity on side one.

Side two is much of the same. While most of the songs feel like a showcase for Buckley’s words and vocals, Mr.Precision gets to shine on “Catastrophe Awaits”. It even features some wicked Eddie Van Halen style two hand tapping. “The Violence of Denial” and “Our Tired Vices” and “2810” are all both aggressive and melodic. “November’s Big Mistake” allows 88 Fingers Louie to get a bit political. On “My Final Story” the band seems to consider their legacy and correcting past mistakes.

The title and cover of Thank You for Being a Friend are pretty interesting. At face value, the title seems to be thanking their fans for their loyalty. The artwork features the 88 Fingers Louie character, who was also on the cover of Behind Bars (1995) and Back on the Street. He appears to be retired, and is sitting on a bench by the water watching the sun set and feeding birds. A closer look reveals that his trusty baseball bat is still within arm’s reach. It’s got to be a metaphor for 88 Fingers Louie the band. They’re mostly out of the life, but are still fully capable of a beatdown when necessary.