Reel Big Fish - Monkeys for Nothin' and the Chimps for Free (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Reel Big Fish

Monkeys for Nothin' and the Chimps for Free (2007)

Rock Ridge

Orange County's Reel Big Fish are currently in their fifteenth year as a band, cementing them as veterans in the ska-punk genre. Despite featuring only two original members, the band has not changed much in the past decade since their breakout hit "Sell Out." Their sixth studio album Monkey's for Nothin' and the Chimps for Free features a plethora of buoyant songs just in time for the peak of summer, an obligatory cover song, and a few re-workings of older songs. The first ten tracks of the record, "The Monkeys," are all new songs, while tracks 11-17, "The Chimps," are re-recordings. Thus, the album feel is loose, but it still maintains the qualities you expect from RBF.

In typical Reel Big Fish fashion, the record opens with a crunching guitar riff, standard distorted horns, and the charming quirk of frontman Aaron Barret's vocals on "Party Down." The majority of the album follows this mold musically; the band continues to heavily embrace the ska portion of their sound, one that saw its resurgence on their previous studio effort, We're Not Happy ‘Til You're Not Happy. Album standouts include the danceable "Live Your Dream" and "The New Version of You" for its simple catchy chorus. With "Everybody's Drunk," the band have written a boastful ballad that not only features a Twisted Sister parody breakdown, but one that competes with their party anthem "Beer." Most of the songs on Monkeys for Nothin' and the Chimps for Free are expressively upbeat in nature, which is a nice change of pace. There are some duds, though; "Another F.U. Song" contains lyrical content that should be embarrassing for a man in his thirties to sing. "My Imaginary Friend" is another clunker, as it glides by and despite a subtle piano is hardly memorable; similar comments can be applied to "Slow Down." It wouldn't be a RBF record without a cover song, and a faithful rendition of Phil Collins' "Another Day in Paradise" is an excellent addition to their extensive database of unoriginal material.

The second portion of the release opens with "Way Back," a dull bonus track from We're Not Happy ‘Til You're Not Happy. Following are four re-recorded songs from RBF's debut album, Everything Sucks. Although said album was re-released in 2000, it's nice to hear them with a delightful sound quality. "Hate You" maintains the charisma of the original and despite its juvenile nature is still a pleasurable song. The rapid "Why Do All Girls Think They're Fat" with its fist-pumping chorus is another enjoyable re-recording. Closing the record are two re-recordings of demos: "'Til I Hit the Ground" and "Cannibal."

Despite Monkeys for Nothin' and the Chimps for Free's initial intention of being a B-sides collection, it turns out to be a solid record that fits perfectly in the band's discography. Despite a portion of the songs being over a decade old the album flows well and maintains the entertaining/quirky Reel Big Fish personality.