Leftover Crack – ‘Constructs of the State’

By Mat Stokes

11 years ago, I was a fresh faced, pissed off high school graduate who revelled in the bombastic sonic assault that was bands like Choking Victim and Leftover Crack. What more could an angry teenager ask for from a band? If the album art didn’t upset your parents, (my dad feared for my soul when he found my copy of their 2001 split with F-Minus, ‘Baby Jesus Sliced Up in the Manger’), songs like ‘Atheist Anthem’ or ‘Shoot the Kids at School’ certainly would. It was a great time to be punx. Cut to 2015: there’s still plenty about the world to be riled up about and Leftover Crack is back with their third full-length and follow-up to 2004’s ‘Fuck World Trade’. Sure, I haven’t listened to them since college, but given the amount of time I dedicated to this band and it’s affiliates years ago, it would be remiss of me if I didn’t at least check it out. So, scabies and metal-heads, I present to you without further adieu, that crack rock steady beat drumming on once again as the good, the bad, and the Leftover Crack return to Fat Wreck with ‘Constructs of the State’.

There is a lot here for fans to be excited about. From the moment an ominous voice kicks off ‘Archaic Subjugation’ suggesting that religion is a language virus, you know this is a Leftover Crack record. All of your favorite subjects from the perils of religion, to the oppressive police state, and the hypocrisy of government are covered in that familiar scathing, tongue in cheek, antagonistic style you’ve come to expect from the band. It works here about as often as it doesn’t. I will say, what is good, is really good. While I’m not crazy about what the huge roster of guests musicians does to the consistency of the record, but ‘System’s Fucked’, ‘Corrupt Vision’ and ‘Poliamor Fiesta Crack’ are easily the best songs because of what Jesse Michaels, Penny Rimbauld, and others bring to the table. Much of that is how much less they make them sound like the typical songs you would expect from Leftover Crack. These songs are more upbeat, bass driven ska tunes with especially hooky refrains and stand out way more than the heavier, hardcore based tracks on ‘Constructs’.

If there is one thing that Leftover Crack does especially well, it’s when they re-record songs from other bands they were involved in; ‘Gang Control’ and ‘So You Wanna Be A Cop?’ being far better versions of old Morning Glory songs. This time around, ‘The War at Home’, a song released in 2007 by techno punk rockers Intro5pect shows up. It seemed like a strange choice at first because Stza was only a guest vocalist on the original track. It did make sense after learning newcomers to the Crack family, guitarist Chris Mann and drummer Donny Morris, were in Intro5pect before they joined the band. Like the aforementioned Morning Glory songs, ‘The War At Home’ works much better under the Leftover Crack moniker. The band is clearly having a great time revisiting this jam as the synth lines that dominate this track are driven to the forefront over the guttural vocals and guitar work by the slick production found throughout the record.

As much fun as it was to revisit an old favorite, I found 29 year-old me having a hard time getting as into this record as I would have 11 years ago. Though the band doesn’t say one single thing I don’t agree with, their approach doesn’t stick hit me the same way it did in high school. And, there in part lies the beauty of this album: anyone excited about the idea of new material from Leftover Crack in 2015 will find something to love about ‘Constructs of the State’. I even found my cynical self absolutely loving the aptly titled ‘Amenecer De Los Muertos’, a big chorused, power-pop song about the band playing a show at a mall. I really hope it actually happened because it was really nice to see the band poke fun at themselves in that way. Tracks like this and others from the record that fall outside the realm of typical Leftover Crack lay the foundation for an excellent follow-up. Fingers crossed that the band doesn’t face similar obstacles with their next album that they did with Constructs because despite my jaded attitude towards them lately, I’d still love to see where they can go from here.

MAT STOKES

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