ALL - Breaking Things (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Breaking Things (1993)


All is kind of hard to pin down. Certainly, they’re a good and fun band, but they never really form a solid identity for themselves, often feeling too disjointed and eclectic to establish a consistent sound that defines the band. Like I said, I normally applaud eclecticism. Hell, my favorite album of all time is The Clash’s London Calling, and that’s about as eclectic as music gets. But something about All’s disjointed nature leaves me unable to really define who and what they are. On their fifth album, Breaking Things, All introduced their third lead singer, Chad Price, and it’s pretty clear that a lead singer doesn’t define them, either. Breaking Things doesn’t have the stylistic eclecticism that Allroy’s Revenge had, but the tone of the album is wildly inconsistent, leading to that same disjointed feeling again.

The album kicks off with “Original Me,” which I would argue is All’s best song, period. “Original Me” is melodic, vulnerable, and clever. It’s such a good song that, on the All/Descendents split live album, The Descendents “covered” the song. This is followed by three more melodic and emotional songs, “Right,” “Shreen,” and “Cause,” that you might almost be tricked into thinking that this album might be consistent. (By the way, Shreen is a woman’s name?! Seriously?) But then on the fifth track we get the goofy and kind of pointless song “Bail,” followed by the macho aggression of “Excuses.” “Strip Bar” feels like an attempt at the Guiness World Record for shortest song ever recorded, and the 10-second song sounds nothing like anything else on the record.

After that, the second half of the record is pretty unremarkable, with “Guilty,” the album’s second single after “Shreen,” the only song on the second half of the album that’s really worthwhile. “Rosco” is a muddled mess, and most of the other songs are competent, but unmemorable. The whole record closes out on the song “Politics,” which seems to be a rejection of all forms of politics, even going so far as to say “Get your politics out of my music.” If this is meant to refer to all politics, it’s a strange statement for a punk group to make. The Descendents and All have never been heavily political bands, but they’ve also never shied away from the occasional political song, either. Neither would “Politics” be the end of All’s political statements, as their 2000 album, Problematic, is certainly quite political.

Breaking Things doesn’t hold up to a lot of the best albums in the Descendents/All catalogue, but it has some really great moments and really did churn out a number of All’s greatest classic hits. Chad Price showed himself to fit in with the band quite nicely, despite being the third singer to lead the band. Still, Breaking Things, like all All albums, leaves you wondering what exactly these guys are supposed to be and what their ultimate goal is. In the end, Breaking Things suffers from a severe lack of purpose.