NOFX - Pump Up The Valuum (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Pump Up The Valuum (2001)


You're going to think this review is weird. Undoubtedly. I'm going to get all sentimental about NOFX and you're going to think I'm a big whiny sap. Well, too bad. I really like NOFX, and I have for a long time. So I get sappy.

I first heard NOFX back in school. I should mention something. I was a cynical depressed little kid. My dad worked all the time, my mom was, well, a little nuts, and I sucked at sports. My school, like most, judged worth based on sports. According to my school, skateboarding wasn't a sport, it was a nuisance, so I was, by my own admission, not a jock. Suffice to say, I had some issues. Whether it was being chased down the street by football players who just didn't like skateboarders, or getting chased by the cops for the exact same reason. It sucked. I had some friends, but they were skaters too. So we wallowed together. So one day, I guess this was grade 7 or 8, someone brought this new tape. I liked Metallica a little, and some other stuff, but I guess I never really dug anything musically. Nothing really moved me. Of course, this tape was Operation Ivy. I was blown away. This was so different than "fuckin' Zepplin" which was the only band that anyone in my school liked. I had my own version. "Fuck Zepplin". It's amazing what difference two letters can make.

So this changed anything. Suddenly, instead of whining about my life, like the goth kids, I decided, "Fuck It, I'm going to do what I want, and if you don't like it. Fuck You." It's been my motto for a long time. So I was starting to get into punk. I went to my local store, called Cactus Records, and I told the guy I really liked punk. He was a pretty cool guy. His name was John, and he was a recovered alcoholic, with some sort of weird autism when it came to CDs. He said: "I know something you'll like." And it was Ribbed. Man was it good. It was obscene, snotty, and seemed to sum up my lifestyle perfectly. So it started.

I started a band, got sponsored by some local skate shop, and lived like I wanted. I dressed like I wanted, dyed my hair pink, and got kicked out of classes. But I suppose it didn't matter, but I was happy. With "Fuck You" on the tip of your tongue, no one can bum you out. Not parents, not school, not dumb fucking jocks. No one.

I was never happier than I was when I chucked in a record. It's funny, I remember buying Punk in Drublic back when my girlfriend at the time cheated on me. I was bummed. She called. I asked. She answered. I said goodbye. Short and sweet. Except it wasn't. It really sucked. So I sat down, fully sad, fully let down. I through on Punk in Drublic. And that amazing song Linoleum came on. As I sat there, feeling sorry for myself, I suddenly felt something. It wasn't much at first, just a positive feeling. Fat Mike is singing about how he doesn't need anything. Just music, and a floor to feel good. I felt it too. And I sat up. I thought "Fuck her, and fuck that guy." It didn't matter anymore. She was nothing special. She did end up cheating on him too, so I guess it worked out in the end. And I had an awesome summer.

So you're probably thinking. Aubin, shut up and tell us about the record. Ok. Here we go:

I hadn't listened to a lot of NOFX in the last little while. I had been 'broadening' my horizons, and listening to hardcore, emo, and other great stuff. I started, and I hadn't thought too much about NOFX. It's weird. So anyway, Melanie Kaye, from Fat gave me a call one day. She says: "We're having a Fat launch party, why don't you come by." It was cool, a whole bunch of people from Fat were there, and we all hung out, ate pizza, and most people (not me) drank beer. It went pretty well, and at the end of the night, as we were leaving, they handed us each a copy of The Decline. I started driving home listened to some arbitrary CD I got in the mail, and then remembered the CD. I popped it in, not really expecting much. After all, I was listening to all this new stuff now. Why could california melodic hardcore offer compared to the complexity of Fugazi, or the melody of Boy Sets Fire? Well. I was surprised. Blown away really. It was unbelievable. It summed up my feeling about a lot of stuff, and I really loved it. Suddenly, Pump Up the Valuum became my most anticipated release of 2000.

A totally great album. It really does remind me of the best parts of every record, minus the ska. Tracks like "And Now for Something Completely Different","Clams Have Feelings Too", and "Thank God it's Monday" are inspired silliness, with great hooks, awesome guitars and kickass melodies. The social commentary ones like "Dinosaurs Will Die", and "Total Bummer" are really well written. Both are vehement attacks on commercialism. One of my favourites would have to be "Stranger than Fishin", not just for the Bad Religion reference, but also because of the line "...we ain't no fuckin' rock band" It really sums up the record. They don't care about writing one hit, just a bunch of great songs. There is no pretention, even from a bunch of guys who could claim to be gods in punk, having inspired or influenced at least half of the biggest bands around. All and all, it's a great record. Honestly, I think the only hiccup the guys have had since Ribbed was Heavy Petting Zoo, other than that, it's been non-stop, limit pushing punk rock. So it went from my most anticipated, to one of my favourite records of the year. Give it a listen, and I'm sure you'll agree.