The Aquabats - Charge!! (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Aquabats

Charge!! (2005)


If someone would have told me five years ago that the Aquabats were going to become a new-wave/punk band, I would have laughed in their face. Sure, musically, the transition might have seemed plausible, but when it comes down to it, my favorite goofy ska band was just that: A goofy ska band. Now, I've owned and loved Fury Of The Aquabats for a long time. Midget pirates, lobsters in buckets, nerd anthems. Skateboarding and broken hearts. Red sweaters and chicken. A fight song! But the Aquabats were always unabashedly a gimmick band; they wear superhero outfits, they sang silly songs, and the music was simple and fun.

But Charge!! brings something new. The songwriting takes a drastic turn -- not only stylistically, but if you weren't paying attention, you wouldn't be able to tell that this was a costume-wearing superhero outfit. Musically, they're not 100% jokes anymore. And I don't know how I feel about that.

"Fashion Zombies!" has a great Misfits-esque "Whooaaa" bridge. In fact, the group vocals tend to play up a lot on this release. It's easy to see how this fits in with the rest of what Nitro has released. There is a huge 80's influence, there is a huge California influence, there is a huge punk influence. And somehow it all blends into an album that isn't too far removed from pop-punk. "Look At Me, I'm A Winner!" has lines like "four radios blasting classic rock" and huge, 80's classic rock throwback guitar riffs. "Hot Summer Nights (Won't Last Forever)!" could be the twin to "Red Sweater" musically and lyrically, though imagine if the upstroke guitars were erased, and the chorus was written by Big Country. "Mechanical Ape" has a great intro and rocksteady style guitars backing an upbeat drum and bass-driving piece. Plus, it's about a mechanical ape. It makes me feel like the Aquabats I grew up loving are still around.

This album is definitely a tricky one. How did it get so catchy? How is it still fun without the ska? Why do I still like this? I guess as long as the Aquabats are around, I won't be able to escape their siren song of goofiness. Strictly for the music, this album has the catchiest damn hooks I've heard in a long time. It's poppy as hell, and it definitely shows the progression of the band. You really are going to be missing out on a lot if you let this pass by you. The Aquabats have always succeeded in making music fun, and if you miss the ska too much, you can revel in "Waterslides!," which brings a two-tone feel to the album.