ALL - Allroy Sez (Cover Artwork)


Allroy Sez (1988)

Cruz Records

Following Milo Aukerman’s decision to pursue an academic career in 1987, the Descendents effectively went on a ten-year hiatus. Rather than sit around and wallow though, the rest of the band carried on with Dag Nasty’s Dave Smalley on vocals and out of respect to Aukerman (who provides back up vocals), they opted for a new name – ALL.

Inspired by the concept of ALL which defined the eponymous Descendents album that came out a year before, the new band incorporated that idea to the fullest by allowing them to further spread their wings. Their first year was rather productive as they released their first full-length record in 1988, “Allroy Sez”. Although the initial plan was for ALL to be an entirely new band, the similarities with the Descendents are more than obvious and apparent even before you even start listening to the record. The cover features ALL’s very own mascot, the Bart Simpson-looking Allroy, just like the Descendents had the ubiquitous Milo adorns their albums.

When you finally hit play on your preferred media device, you will notice that aside from the singer, ALL doesn’t differ greatly musically or lyrically from Descendents: The music is mostly the highly polished, lick-filled, saccharine pop punk you have come to expect (with a few deviations here and there), while relationship woes, anxiety, food and the concept of ALL (obviously) are prominently featured lyrical subjects.

The album kicks off with the jaunty and lively “Pretty Little Girl” that showcases just how tight of a backing band Egerton, Alvarez and Stevenson have become by this point. “Hooidge” and “Sex In The Way” that follow complete a trio of songs on relationships in that trademark Descendents style; falling in love, figuring out that things don’t work out and trying to distinguish between love and sex. Just as you start getting comfortable with the pop punk, “Alfredo’s” (a paean to the band’s favorite Mexican restaurant) goes a bit experimental with some progressive twists thrown in.

Despite initially only being available on the CD release, “Allthymn” is the album’s conceptual highlight, as it further expands on the idea of ALL. Here it is described as the fifth primary color and the number between zero and infinity, with Smalley later explaining that it is neither “love or hate, it's not like any other mental state, it's the total extent, when nothing else remains, the utmost possible of possible gains”.

The second half of the record is not as upbeat and rather more serious and gritty, but it maintains the same level of quality throughout. “Auto Wreck” – a song about trying to get a friend to snap out of self-destructive habits to avoid a head on collision with life – is perhaps the highlight on this side, as it evokes a Black Flag meets Dag Nasty kind of vibe, which carries on to the introspective and somber “A Muse”. Just before you start questioning if this a “My War” situation all over again, the album closes with the more familiar-sounding and catchy “Don Quixote” (which, like “Allthymn”, was only initially available on the CD version).

As tends to be the case with most band debuts, “Allroy Sez” can be a bit unsure at times about where it wants to go and tries to straddle that fine line between a familiar past and the uncertain future for which they initially set out. With future releases and subsequent vocalist changes, ALL would become more comfortable in their skin and carve a own niche in the grander scheme of things, but over here though the ride can be a bit hit and miss if you are not already into or familiar with the Descendents.