Joey Cape - A Good Year to Forget (Cover Artwork)

Joey Cape

A Good Year to Forget (2021)

fat wreck chords

Joey Cape wound miles of personal reflection from A Good Year to Forget, a year in which the Lagwagon and Bad Astronaut captain would lose his father, separate from his partner of two decades, and contract COVID-19.

The newly single punk veteran moved back in with his parents after recovering from the illness, turning the “cabana-type thing” he would be living in as a private studio, and allowing him to spend the rest of his empty schedule reconnecting with his parents. It is over these twelve months that the processing of grief, and impending loss to come, shaped some of Cape’s best songwriting to date.

The LP opens with a thesis of the year, a title-track from a defeated orphan. Opening up with melancholy keys and brushed drums from Cape, who performed every instrument very well. “There’s always something of redeeming value in an experience where there’s a struggle of suffering” he said. “I played everything because I reached a point where I realized that’s something I’d have to hold onto if it was going to be the record I wanted and set out to make. It forced things to be very basic, but I’m okay with that.”

“Nickel and Lead” picks up right on the same note as the opener, bumming directly to the more technically complicated acoustic leads of “The Poetry in Our Mistakes” and Joey’s trip down relationship lane in “It Could Be Real.” Organ, mandolin, and some haunting EBow join the DIY session on “Check Your Ego at the Door,” which crashes open at the halfway point.

“We Might Be Wrong” is a beautiful song, a delicate observation of human ignorance, with hook and melodic nods to the late Tony Sly, complete with sad slide guitar. Perhaps it is the darkness that orbits the album itself that would have been more Tony’s traditional forte than Joey’s, but there are several moments where his influence undeniably pops out.”

“Saturday Night Fever,” “Under the Doormat,” and “Infertile Ground” are an excellent pocket of the record, opening with a quirky commentary of quarantine, melting into two deeply negative songs. “Heavy Lies the Head” is a sad 90 second acoustic standard that staples to “Fictional,” a marching analysis into the prison of social media presence with a spectacular and eerie outro.

A Good Year to Forget shuts down with the gut-wrenching “Come Home,” a thoughtfully crafted goodbye to the production. The last year was indeed a good one for everyone to forget, Cape included, but this is some of his most brilliant work ever. Very, very good album.