Upon first hearing the title track before the EP’s release, my excitement was ignited by the idea of NOFX‘s putting out another “Longest Line”; a release that focused on more serious and introspective themes and strung the tracks together to form an experience more powerful than each individual song alone could muster (along with saving the token joke songs for last as to not distract from the experience).
However, my hopes were dashed when the second song ended and the cheap sound of a wonky bass intro to a song I had already heard filled my ears. What started out as an interesting EP derailed into a single attached with disjointed and off-topic b-sides.
“Stoke Extinguisher,” a song that reminded me of the Longest Line’s “Stranded” with Fat Mike painting the same broken imagery, kicks off the release with the notion of hope, despite it’s bleak and depressing connotations. The guitar tones and blasting drums stand on the band’s heavier side, dispelling their normal pop-punk sound. It’s an exciting song and one of my favorite of NOFX’s in recent memory.
The second song “The Shortest Pier,” a No Use For A Name cover, continues in this more emotional side of NOFX. Originally released on a tribute album for the late Tony Sly earlier this year, the song works well the the opener and leads the audience to believe the rest of this EP will be focused and coherent. But that would be a false assumption.
But as soon as the poorly mixed demo version of “I Believe in Goddess” traveled through my headphones, I had left the place the first two songs settled me in and traveled back to last year when I listened to a much better version of the same song. Putting a demo for a substandard song in the heart of a self-proclaimed EP? All the previous momentum gained departed, leaving four off topic songs to finish off the EP.
The fourth track and the inevitable joke song “My Stepdad’s a Cop and My Stepmom’s a Domme” goes further to alienate the listener, adding bondage to the lyrical content which previously reflected on self-worth, internal search, and dealing with loss. In the past NOFX, had placed joke songs after more emotionally heavy songs with success, but the placement and usage of this one feels out of place and inappropriate. The final two songs “Wore Out the Soles of My Party Boots” and “New Year’s Revolution,” ripped from a 7″ put out earlier this year, only added to the confused lyrical concentration.
While the instrumentals are strong on the first two tracks and decent on the rest (save the demo), where this EP falls apart is it’s continuity. In fact, it’s not an EP. It’s a single, a good one at that, with a good cover and four re-released b-sides.
To view this release as a single, it succeeds in having a catchy song, chalk-full of food for thought.
But if you’re expecting an EP, prepare to have your stoke extinguished.