And indeed, since he was heading off to do just that, the Descendents
bowed out the earliest phase of its existence with another collection of blink-and-you'll-miss-it songs about life, love, girls, losers, and, of course, food. Starting with the classic rip-and-riff of "Myage," which started a long-standing trend of Descendents
songs ending with "-age," the four-piece pureed everything it loved -- pop hooks, punk and hardcore thrash, and whatever else it enjoyed -- and came up with an unpretentious, catchy winner. The playing of the core band is even better than before, never mistaking increased skill with needing to show off; the Lombardo
rhythm section is in perfect sync, while Navetta
provides the corrosive power. Add in Aukerman
's in-your-face hilarity and f*ck-off stance, and it's punk rock that wears both its adolescence and brains on its sleeve. Aukerman
lets his heart slip through more than once amid all the hilarious descriptions and putdowns, like the slow-burn introduction to "Catalina," with Navetta
's guitar the perfect snarling counterpoint. There are a couple of moments where the band's young age is all too obvious -- the trendoids slammed in "Loser" deserve the total trashing given, but the casual homophobia is unfortunate no matter where you stand. As for "Kabuki Girl," you've got to wonder. Generally, though, this is smart, sly music and words coming from people interested in creating their own lives and style as opposed to following trends. There's "Tonyage," another rant against punk/new wave wannabes who "were all surfers last year"; the wise-in-advance-of-its-years "I'm Not a Punk," perhaps the band's greatest song; and the power-singalong "Suburban Home," with its spoken-word start and ending, "I want to be stereotyped, I want to be classified!" The music never stops, neither does the energy -- an instant party album of its own kind.