Reel Big Fish – ‘Life Sucks… Let’s Dance!’

By Louis Kerry

It has to be said that 2018 was quite the year. The gloomy likes of Brexit and Donald Trump have hogged the media spotlight all year round, making it hard to see a bright side to the year at some points. However, just before we enter a fresh 2019, ska punk veterans Reel Big Fish ensure we can walk into it with a spring in our step and frowns turned upside down thanks to their aptly titled new album ‘Life Sucks… Let’s Dance!’.

Never a band to quite grasp the saying ‘new year, new me’, one thing Reel Big Fish have often been criticised for is sticking to the same formula – whether that be playing almost the exact same setlist for the latter half of their careers, or just the long absences of new material. Luckily, with their latest release, the band have solved the problem (kind of) with a collection of brand new ska infused party anthems that everyone loves them for. The likes of ‘You Can’t Have All of Me’ has already helped to reinvigorate their live show.

It is a shame that ‘Life Sucks… Let’s Dance!’ has been released at the end of winter, as it would have been the ultimate summer album. The title track opener hits you straight into the good times feel with a huge chorus and even a sax solo. ‘Ska Show’ and ‘The Good Old Days’ have that nostalgic brass focused, The Beat-style ska flow that will have you strutting down the beach or skanking in the summer heat at the back of your garden. Unfortunately, a low point on the album is the track ‘Bob Marley’s Toe’, which sounds exactly how you imagine; bad reggae with unfunny humour.

Full of teenage angst despite being in their mid forties, ‘Pissed Off’ is classic Fish; a track that both makes you want to dance until you drop and swear at your boss at the same time. ‘Tongue Tied and Tipsy Too’ offers a much faster paced, short and almost hardcore influenced punk rock track (complete with a ridiculous guitar solo) which ups the tempo and keeps the album interesting just at the right time.

Never a band to be ashamed of treading on old ground, ‘Love Again’ proves that just when you think you’ve heard every heartbreak song that Reel Big Fish can come up with, they will find a unique way to add another hit to their epic collection of tongue-in-cheek romantic tales.

Even though Reel Big Fish have hardly reinvented their sound and the gimmick wears thin towards the end of the album, ‘Life Sucks… Let’s Dance!’ sits perfectly well next to the rest of a back catalogue that you can always rely on to lift your spirits. There will be no better way to start the year on a high than to give this album a listen and have a skank along to it.

LOUIS KERRY

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