It was just a couple of months ago that I was introduced to Jay Allen and the Archcriminals but they instantly became a constant in my daily playlist. Fun, a bit in your face yet light-hearted, I fell in love with this group and Jay so when I got a package in the mail with a back catalog of some of their albums, I was super excited. That package has sat on my desk for a couple of weeks now just due to a surprisingly insane schedule but I woke up ridiculously early this morning and needed a soundtrack for my day so I put ‘Fun Is Fun, But You Gotta Be F*%kin’ Kidding Me’ into my stereo and hit play.
“Bustin’ My Balls” kicks this album off with a bang. It’s that aggressive yet somehow accessible rockin’ sound that made me fall in love with this man (and band) the first time around. There’s something perfectly imperfect about this opening track. Between Jay’s signature raspy voice and the almost hollow (but in a good way) sound, there’s just something about this track that got me moving even though, when you really listen to the lyrics, it’s not the most uplifting track ever written.
“Twist My Nuts” starts with a great bass line before the rest of the band comes in and blasts through your speakers with a sense of power and ease. The vibe of this song is a match to that of “Bustin’ My Balls” but that vibe changes with “Toaster Oven” which instantly became a favorite of mine. Surf-rock styled “Ohh’s” and “Ahh’s” mixed with the funny lyrics about, you guessed it, a toaster oven, left me with a song that had me dancing around my living room with a sudden urge to make some toast or something.
Speaking of a surf-rock style, the fourth track on this album is entitled “Gotta Surf” but it’s not what I was expecting. I was expecting a Beach Boys inspired track and, instead, got a more rockin’ and almost skate punk song. The energy is sky high on the track and the vocals were a bit more gravely than heard in the previous songs. This fun yet powerful sound is something that I wasn’t quite expecting out of Jay Allen and the Archcriminals having heard some songs from them before but the way they pull this one off is perfect.
“Silly Song” is one of those tracks that is so distinctively Jay Allen’s. You get a little bit of everything from a retro pop sound to a subtle nod to the great punk bands of years gone by, to everything in between. This is one of those tracks that I highly suggest checking out if you’re on the fence about checking this group out (although you shouldn’t be on the fence because these guys are great). Just when I got used to this poppy influenced vibe, the band brings the tempo down a bit and ramps up the power with “Helluva Guy”. There’s a darkness to this track that is intriguing and captivating. Again, “Helluva Guy ” is a great example of how this band is a bit all over the place while staying completely true to a sound that only they can pull off.
“Twice A Day” stands out on this album due to the almost subdued nature of the track. This one definitely leans toward the 70’s pop influence that can be heard throughout the album. Although not as aggressive and punky as the previous songs, there’s no lack of energy and I was a bit bummed as thie album rolled onto “Last Man On Earth” after just three and a half minutes. That being said, “Last Man on Earth” was definitely not a disappointment and kept the surprises rolling with this album. Think Elvis meets, well, Elvis. Yet another track that caught me a bit off guard but kept the smile on my face stretched from ear to ear, this track had me dancing around the living room again like a fool while my cats looked on completely unamused.
I was really loving the vibe created by “Last Man on Earth” and was a bit shocked as “Who Invited The Baby” with a Black Sabbath feeling intro but, before long, the drums kicked in and we were back to that aggressive sound that Jay Allen and the Archcriminals does so perfectly. Fast paced and a bit in your face, we may be getting to the end of this album but there’s no slowing down this group.
“Cold Bourbon and a Spanking” splits the difference between the aggressiveness of “Who Invited The Baby” and the retro vibe of “Last Man on Earth” perfectly. Again, and I can not stress this enough, the many elements that this band puts into each song is shocking and “Cold Bourbon and a Spanking” is a perfect example of that.
Ending ‘Fun Is Fun, But You Gotta Be F*%kin’ Kidding Me’ is “Barfly”. This track is surprisingly slow and steady for this band but is the perfect ending to this exciting album. I was expecting something super in your face for the end so I was a bit surprised when I got this track but, upon thinking about it and upon listening to it about a half a dozen times, I realized that this was the perfect ending to this album.
I love Jay Allen and the Archcriminals because they remind you to not take life too seriously but also make sure you know they are some uber talented musicians. From a song about a toaster oven to elements that range from 70’s pop to hair metal, everything about this band is perfect and I fall deeper and deeper in love with them with each album I check out.
My Favorite Track(s): “Toaster Oven”; “Gotta Surf”; “Twice A Day”
For Fans Of: Smiling; Cheap beer at dive bars; Innovation
Dance-ability: 7.2 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Both Artie and Autumn stared at me unamused as I danced around the house
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 8.7 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 6.9 out of 10
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