EP Review: Less Than Jake – “Do the Math”

When it comes to the big names of third wave ska bands from the 1990’s, Less Than Jake might be the only one that still consistently puts out exciting new music. Sure, some of them still put out great music, but not very consistently (Goldfinger, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones), while the rest either switched genres (The Aquabats), broke up (The Hippos), broke up and got back together with a barely recognizable line up (Save Ferris), or are Reel Big Fish (um… Reel Big Fish). So really, it falls upon Less Than Jake to keep the soul of 90’s ska punk alive*, which is exactly what they do on their billionth** 7-inch single, “Do the Math”.

“Do the Math” is exactly as it appeared on See the Light. It’s a fun, upbeat song and makes a whole lot of sense as a single. Seeing as how the album came out seven months ago as of this writing, I’d be pretty surprised if you haven’t heard the song already. But in case you haven’t heard it go listen to it right now (let’s be real though, your only excuse for not knowing it already would be because you don’t like Less Than Jake anymore, but if that’s the case, what the hell are you reading this review for?)

“Connect the Dots”, the exclusive b-side, is the real star here (you know, in a manner of speaking). Much like the bulk of the tracks on See the Light, “Connect the Dots” doesn’t present any kind of reinvention to Less Than Jake’s sound, but it certainly revisits everything that has made their sound so successful in the last two decades. The guitars are more punk rock driven than the bouncy ska feel of the A-side, and there’s an urgency in Lima’s delivery of the chorus that brings “Bigger Picture” (fittingly, off of Less Than Jake’s first Fat Wreck release, Borders and Boundaries) to mind. It’s a real shame that the song got left off the final track list.

All-in-all “Do the Math” is a swell choice for a single, and “Connect the Dots” is a wonderful b-side. That said… with just two songs, the physical release itself is for die-hard collectors only. For everyone else, you’d be better off seeking out “Connect the Dots” individually (might I suggest getting it directly from Fat Wreck?) and putting it on a playlist with the rest of See the Light.

4 / 5 Stars

*The spirit is being kept alive by plenty of ska bands these days, but there’s a certain soul to it that can only come from actually being in a ska band during the 1990’s.

**In a somewhat ironic twist, no math was involved in trying to guess exactly how many 7-inches Less Than Jake has put out. But it’s probably around a billion… right?

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