Cokie the Clown - You're Welcome (Cover Artwork)

Cokie the Clown

You're Welcome (2019)

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Fat Mike is polarizing. My guess is most people listening to NOFX at this point are likely not going to stop. Most recently, he was ousted from his own festival while his mainstay band NOFX were forced to European markets in a backlash to offensive comments he made at 2018’s Punk Rock Bowling. With a new release under his Cokie the Clown moniker, it’s his first time stepping back into public light. His choosing to return as Cokie the Clown is an intriguing choice to say little. It’s a project started off with a gag about making the audience think they drank Fat Mike’s pee that was roundly criticized at the time and drew widespread criticism.

Over the last five years, NOFX have taken, both in output and lyrical expression, a more inward facing approach. Where their ridicule on earlier material was aimed at society, Fat Mike began to turn the mirror inward and reflect on himself. He began writing more literally on recent albums and with many lurid details explored in NOFX’s book The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories. On Cokie the Clown’s You’re Welcome, Fat Mike notes again, “I peeled my fucking skin off for this record.”

You’re Welcome is somber, trading NOFX’s brand for acoustics, expanded instrumentation, and string compositions. At times it’s interesting, but it often falls flat as encapsulated in opener “Bathtub.” A sparse piano hobbles back and forth over singular notes as Fat Mike tells a story realizing someone is dying in a bathtub. While never known for being an excellent singer, Fat Mike’s voice really contrasts. Same happens on “Down with the Ship.” It’s tempered when contributing singers are layered into the compositions. See “That Time I Killed My Mom.”

The lyrics on You’re Welcome do take probably the most personal approach Fat Mike has took, but it feels like a rehashing of many of the shock stories he’s told in public interviews lately. The most enjoyable parts of it though, feel like they’d be more enjoyable as a NOFX song. While “Fuck You All” stays a little too long near the spectrum of the joke acoustic tracks from Blink 182’s Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, it turns into a searing indictment about the music industry that’s catchy. Closing tracks “Pre-Arraigned Marriage” and “Punk Rock Saved My Life” work, but suffer from the above note as well.

You’re Welcome is what it is. It’s a solo album from Fat Mike from NOFX oddly featuring Blink 182’s Travis Barker on drums, Dizzy Reed from Guns ‘N’ Roses on keys, produced by a guy who produced Nine Inch Nails, and touts collaboration with a French composer named Baz who caught Fat Mike’s attention with a symphonic version of “The Decline.” I suppose someone wants to hear that.