Extremely catchy ska/punk songs set to a blazingly fast beat, tunes you can sing-along to, and awesome covers of familiar songs are things that come to mind when someone mentions Victims Of Circumstance; a great group of guys that have been making a name for themselves as one of the most hard-working bands in the Florida ska/punk scene since 2007. Releasing three full-length studio albums, a live album entitled “Live In Japan,” and playing countless shows all over the damn place, the band shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Featuring 13 songs on its extensive tracklisting, the band’s third album, “Acupunkture,” has been said to be their strongest work yet. I can vouch for this, considering I own all of the band’s albums, and have seen a great progression in each subsequent release.
The album kicks things off right with a fast-ass, horn-infused punk rock jam about boozing your problems away, entitled “Pint Of Black,” which is quickly followed up by “A Libido the Size of Toledo.” This track kicks major ass and features one of my favorite lines on the record; “At least I know when I reach the gates, I’ll be in good company. See you in hell.”
Next up is “Riddled,” which is a tune about being labeled the “underdog” rising up to show people that just because society’s casts someone out, it doesn’t mean that person is inferior. I’ve seen this song played many times before and consider it to be one of the best in the band’s entire catalog.
The fourth track on “Acupunkture” is another mid-tempo ska song, entitled “The Straw.” This song has more of a melancholy feel to it than any other song on the record, covering the subject-matter of being betrayed by a girlfriend you once trusted oh-so-much. To bring us back up, the band used their strategic reasoning to place “Five Points” (a song which has become a staple of their live show) in the next spot on the record’s tracklisting. This tune tells the tale of Irish Bowery gangs beating the shit out of each-other in 1857(?).
The album continues with a more romantic (some might say “mushy”), slightly more-than-mid-tempo song, known as “Watching The Fives Go By,” which is about reveling in memories of the good old days with your sweetheart. In the spirit of arranging the tracks on “Acupunkture” so that they completely vary from each-other, the band now breaks out a punk rock jam disguised as a slow reggae song near its beginning. The title of the aforementioned song happens to be “My Tereza,” and this track just makes you want to get your lazy ass up from the computer chair and start a circle pit in the middle of your bedroom.
To introduce an element of bitterness to this record, the band threw in a comical little number that quickly became a crowd favorite at shows, entitled”Girlfriend.” This one’s about telling that off that clingy, weird chick you went on a date with one time; yeah, you know the one.
Next up on the album is “So It Goes,” which is an extremely short song with blazing power-chord-heavy guitar riffs and triumphant horn parts that will be enjoyed by Less Than Jake fans near and far. This one’s about taking control of your life and doing things your way; at least, that’s what I get from the line, “If you’re sitting on the sideline, then there’s no way you can win.” Quickly following is “Mexico,” which is a slightly more-than-mid-tempo song about venturing off to Mexico with a girl named Maria, in order to escape from their identities.
Beginning to wrap up “Acupunkture” is an extremely catchy ska tune titled “Everything New Is Old Again.” This track is about taking a trip to the past with all of your old friends. It starts off with the following line, which is probably my favorite on the entire record – “Whatever happened to the Homecoming Queen? She’s dancing down on Bourbon Street.”
Continuing to bring the record to an end is “Long After I’m Gone” – an upbeat, skankalicious, punk rock anthem about your significant other breaking up with you and leaving town. And to finish wrapping this amazing album up, the band does a good job of taking the older punx on a nostalgia trip back to the late 70’s with a cover of Cheap Trick’s classic song, “I Want You To Want Me.”
I can honestly say that “Acupunkture” is one of my top three favorite punk/ska records of all time. For me, it’s right up there with Less Than Jake’s “Hello Rockview” and The Suicide Machines’ “Destruction By Definition.” I give it five out of five stars without a doubt in my mind.
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