Impossibles - Anthology (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Anthology (1999)

Fueled by Ramen

I remember there was a time when I drove all night behind the wheel of our tour van. I just had gotten the mixes to THE IMPOSSIBLES' first record and I thought it was amazing. I fell in love with it, I listened to it for hours and hours, over and over on the drive. Words couldn't and still can't describe how excited I was to have a chance at releasing that record.
- Vinnie Fiorello, drummer for Less than Jake, co-founder of Fueled by Ramen Records

There aren't many records that I've listened to enough to where I could give an informed review without actually listening to the music while writing. There's the Clash's London Calling, probably Minor Threat's Discography, and maybe Rancid's Life Won't Wait, though I'd have to look at the insert booklet to see who all the guest musicians were on that one. Yet here I am, sitting at my desk at work, able to play every single one of the 20 (or 22 on some releases) songs of the Impossibles' Anthology through in my head.

The first few words of the record, "Hi, we're the Impossibles from Austin, Texas!" offers a small piece of information that leads to more. The Impossibles were heavily influenced by fellow Southern punk band Avail, and as luck would have it, opening for Avail proved to be a major stepping stone in gaining recognition in the punk scene. From a purely sonic perspective, I can more easily hear a similarity to Weezer (in ska-punk form), though since Weezer's Blue Album didn't come out until May of 1994, it's hard to believe the influence was there at that time, though the same urgent feeling of onsettting tragedy that Weezer would eventually make famous underlies most of the Impossibles' songs.

The band's seminal fan favorite "Eightball" starts off the record, with a crushing pre-verse that leads into a whimsical semi-ska verse that demonstrates the band's strong and witty lyrics: "It is, without a doubt, hard to figure out this magic ball / What gives it its mojo powers, and makes it so mystical? / Is it the faith of over a million kids who find it believable? Or is it a bunch of four-sided dice trapped in a black plastic ball?!"

The second track, "Widowmaker," appears twice on the album in two different forms, and like "Eightball," provides the framework for much of the Impossibles' song structure: third wave ska or ska-punk verses with heavily distorted choruses and plenty of hooks to boot. Since there's not enough space to describe each one of the classics, I'll highlight some of my favorite lines from their stellar lyrics.
  • "Back for the Attack": "Problems surfaced and they capsized our relationship / I now propose this expedition to salvage it / The weather may start getting rough / Our tiny ship may be tossed / I'll not be stopped by acts of God, I'll get you back at any cost!"
  • "Leave No Man Behind": "Every once in awhile I get tangled up on my loose ends / And I strangle myself on promises made to old friends. / Just once he'd like to take one step forward, not two steps back / Like the drops in the bucket balanced on his back / The little things add up so fast."
  • "Something Fierce": "It's never cold enough / My Rubik's Cube is never solved...unless taken apart / I'm hung from the highest tree / The birds won't nest with me / As the slingshots take aim / The bull's eye is on my frame."
  • "Fatboy": "In elementary I was the lowest class / A bitter little kid good at science and math / Well, I never had a problem making other kids laugh / When they'd steal my lunch or kick me in the ass."
"Fatboy," along with "Everyday" are two of the catchiest songs on the record that also feature the horn playing of guitarist and singer Rory Phillips. Phillips and guitarist Gabe Hascall also often exchange vocal duties like in the emo-tinged "Descriptive Essay, 100 Words." Even the cutest of songs like "Francis," an ode to a teddy bear, is laced with restlessness and unease.

The Impossibles, while still teenagers barely old enough to drive, created a set of masterpieces that most musicians today strive for, but few achieve. The band's raw and bare emotion is cleverly leaked through witty and thoughtful lyrics and perfectly suiting music that toggles between light, fluffy ska to spine-jarring anthems. Along with Minor Threat, Operation Ivy, and the Germs, this is one "Anthology" that no music fan should be without.