The Vandals - Hollywood Potato Chip (Cover Artwork)

The Vandals

Hollywood Potato Chip (2004)

Kung Fu

I have always loved "Live Fast, Diarrhea." I probably listened to the album way too much. Actually, for a while, the Vandals were one of my favorite bands. "The Quickening" wasn't too bad, "Hitler Bad, Vandals Good" was frighteningly catchy. Then "Look What I Almost Stepped In" came out and I just about cried. The Vandals senseless charm and robust energy had been lost in a bunch of pop-punk gibberish. "Internet Dating Superstuds" tried to take them in the right direction but only did so much. So for a band that I had once liked so much, I was truly surprised when I saw their new album "Hollywood Potato Chip." Normally I stay up on top of new releases, but this one had slipped by my radar. Guess I really didn't have high expectations for the release.

The album opens very strongly with "How They Getcha", a song that harks back to the days of "Live Fast, Diarrhea," fast paced, crazy guitar solos on Warren's part, some wild drumming on Josh's part, and random screaming on Dave's part. These are the glory days of the Vandals, and I have wished for them to return to the past the past few albums. So far, so good.

The following song "Don't Stop Me Now" is a bit more relaxed, but isn't that bad. Unfortunately, that is where a lot of the songs fall under, not that bad. Nothing to scream about, just a step above mediocrity. The thing that has always separated the Vandals from other bands has been the franticness of their fun. The lyrics are pretty consistently senseless, but their best songs have always been those songs like "How They Getcha" where the band actually decides to harness their true talent. Warren is an excellent and inventive guitarist, but listening to this album, you can't really tell this much.

However, amidst all the alright songs, there are some gems. "Be a Good Robot" does a nice job of showcasing Josh's drumming through the pure speed. Warren throws in a very metal influenced solo and even Joe's bass skills can be heard throughout the song. The Vandals are a very talented bunch of guys who can throw an amazing live show, but it seems that they are losing their insanity touch finally. Because right after this song, "Manimal" is thrown in. This song recalls more along the lines of "Look What I Almost Stepped In," an album that is hardly a gem. It is slow and poppy, and seems like just another generic band singing somewhat childish lyrics.

This is what "Hollywood Potato Chip" boils down to. Songs like "Dig a Hole" and "How They Getcha" are up there with the better Vandals songs. Others don't seem to rise above the generic dribble that the band seems to have enjoyed putting out lately. Once again, like "Internet Dating Superstuds" they open strong but eventually turn boring. The album isn't really that bad by any means, but it also isn't that good. These guys either need to take a few months to find their old and true sound, or they should hang up the whole being a band shtick.