Sicko - In the Alternate Timeline (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


In the Alternate Timeline (2019)

Red Scare INdustries

As I sit here listening to Sicko, I can’t help but reminisce about how great pop punk was in the early to mid ‘90s. So raw, so loose, so punk. Somewhere along the way, metronomes and autotune sucked the life out of the music. (See Blink-182, Simple Plan, New Found Glory etc..) Punk with a little bit of pop became pop with a little bit of punk. Fortunately, Sicko never got too polished. While they were less Ramones-core than most of the Lookout! type bands, they were no less fun. They always felt like three nerdy friends who enjoyed playing music together. That enjoyment was inevitably felt by the listener too.

Sicko is one of the more criminally underrated ‘90s pop punk bands. Maybe it’s because they were from the Pacific Northwest. Maybe it’s because they made albums for the equally underrated Empty Records. Maybe their choruses weren’t big and dumb enough. Maybe it was just bad luck. For whatever reason, Sicko didn’t survive the ‘90s. They went on to normal lives and normal jobs. (While the world was cheated of more music, it’s likely their 401Ks are in a lot better shape than their contemporaries that “made it”.) Now, 20 years later, In the Alternate Timeline gives an excuse to revisit the Seattle trio.

In the Alternate Timeline has a little fun with the idea of a “best of” album. It imagines that Sicko did get lucky and was hugely successful. The cover even features a cartoon rendering of the members doing rich people stuff. The compilation contains no new songs, but draws 19 tracks from six different releases. There are songs from their Count Me Out EP (1993), all four of their full lengths (You Can Feel the Love in This Room [1994], Laugh While You can Monkey Boy [1995], Chef Boyrudum [1995], You Are Not the Boss of Me [1997]), and their split with the Mr.T Experience (1993). Who knows how bands without any hits choose the songs for their “greatest hits”, but ultimately, there’s a pretty good cross section of songs.

Almost all the tracks are great, but “Where I Live”, “80 Dollars”, “Little”, “On the Clock”, “Indie Rock Daydream” and “Washington My Home” are the ones that have been getting stuck in my head most often. Some are jangly and melancholy, while others have a driving punk beat, but almost all are catchy as hell. The liner notes include a brief essay from the band, and a ton of testimonials from punk luminaries like Tobias Jegg from Red Scare and Dr. Frank Portman from MTX. Serious Sicko fans probably already have all these songs, but In the Alternate Timeline would be a great introduction for the next generation of potential fans. Good stuff.