“Took me two years to write this song
I wanted it perfect, no wrinkles in it
Took me a long time to come clean
To be honest, the truth's so ugly
Took me a long time to come home
I didn't think you'd get me
I had too much explaining.”
Some of the opening lines from “In the Mirror”, a track from the 4th wave ska punkers The Interrupter’s 5th studio length album, In the Wild - just digitally re-released with a total of sixteen tracks - thirteen studio cuts and three bonus tracks. In the Wild is filled with nods to all of the original influences the band and vocalist Aimee herself have been motivated by while still retaining and continuing on the classic Interrupters sound they’ve cultivated over the past dozen years or so.
With lyrical content mostly swirling around themes of mental health and impostor syndrome, “In the Wild” is a vulnerable insight into Aimee’s past, mind, and, at times, relationship with husband and guitar player Kevin Sweatshop. Featuring collaborations with some of ska’s biggest superstars, In the Wild revisits personal memories of loss and poverty of the past reimagined into inspiring themes of both resolve and redemption immersed in the highly nuanced, HUP! HUP! hooligan sound they’ve come to be known for.
The album kicks off strong with “Anything Was Better”, a melodic punk hand clapper with encouraging lyrics reminiscent of their tune “On the Radio.” Track two, “As We Live” features both Rancid’s Tim Armstrong and The Selector’s Rhoda Dakar, a steady skanker featuring three iconic generations of ska vocalists. It’s great to hear such an obvious nod to all the band’s various influences throughout the record and this cut is no exception with clear overtones of both two tone and bands like The Specials and Madness interwoven into this and many other tracks.
The quote from the opening line of this review comes from track four, “In the Mirror”, with brave lyrics about one struggling with perfectionism, impostor syndrome, and mental health in general, it’s a relatable song about feeling out of place no matter how far you run, or where you go. As a woman in any industry, imposter syndrome should be considered a given. You *are* an imposter as a female identifying individual within any system - in any *world* that isn’t built for you, much less your visibility or success. I can relate to the opening lines of the song, which I’ve used as the starting lines of this album review.
Listening to The Interrupters is like hearing 20 of your favorite bands all at once but - paradoxically, with their own unique signature sound few could ever genuinely replicate. The dynamic among the quartet is no less than alchemical, and as the years have gone on not only has their crossover appeal risen, but also their range and scope as a band.
Take track five, for example, down tempo “Kiss the Ground”. Channeling both Agent Jay of the Slackers’ traditional end of set electric dub vibes and current tour mates The Skints’ penchant for post 1975 style reggae breakdowns. It’s a great mid album interlude that also flexes the high overall production value, with instinctively timed song placements on what's (stylistically at least) the most conceptual album they’ve ever offered.
“My Heart” and “Alien” are piano ballad style and for the first time we get a glimpse into some of the crooners that have influenced Aimee’s vocal stylings, with each track more like a Lady GaGa or Freddy Mercury tune than ska punk. “My Heart” is also a tender ode to Aimee and husband/guitar player Kevin Sweatshop's longtime relationship, with heartfelt lyrics, it's destined to be played at many scenester weddings this summer.
“Worst For M” could have easily been a Rancid song left on the chopping room floor from their upcoming album, with that same fist pumping, circle pit energy that Brandon Steineckert summons with his outrageous double drumming and the signature “Lars guitar” style that leads the entire band (and audience) into a traditional “la la -lalala” breakdown.
Three bonus tracks are featured on the album including “Get Down Moses”, a Joe Strummer cover with a contemporary reggae vibe a’ la Tribal Seeds and Burning Spear. “Sorrow” is a transcendent cover of the infamous Bad Religion tune with a clever ska intro that almost bait and switches you in the first few chords of the song before the drop hits and your brain wraps all the way around it.
The album wraps up with a modest yet earnest acoustic rendition of “Raised By Wolves”, that once again, in true Interrupters style features non excessive use of swear words, no call outs, no blasting, shaming, or anything that would be a bad influence on their audience.
The band seems very conscious of the influence they have over the ska punk community, particularly the youth and younger populace of, and with nods to Amy’s original influences jewel-encrusted by collaborations with ska and punk icons both memorable, and magnificent, “In the Wild” is a well curated, incredibly produced album that sparkles - and was put together with much intentionality. There's a little bit for everyone on this album - and a *lot* for any die hard Interrupter fan.
“Took me two years to write this song