Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Bloodhound Gang - Hard Off (2015)

A bit of an oddity, I'm sure that nine out of ten people are wondering just why in the hell we're reviewing an album from The Bloodhound Gang. Well, I've been a fan since they debuted way back when and haven't heard a new release from these guys in several years. As a matter of fact, I think it was 2005's Hefty Fine which was the last I'd heard from them and that was a full decade ago. So what in the hell kind of record did they make this time? As you may have expected, it's just as experimental as their previous record and '99's breakout Hooray For Boobies.

The first one we've got here is “My Dad Says That's For Pussies” which sounds like a melancholic emo-era Blink 182 track, except for the fact that it's a bit hilarious and full of the level of potty-mouthed humor that we'd expect from these guys. The next one, “Dimes” is actually more like the group's hit “The Bad Touch” which takes an electronic/nerd rap approach. It's actually really good, but what really interested me here is that the electronic melody utilized here somewhat resembles E1-M2 from the first Doom game, or “The Chemical Plant” stage. You'd have to really listen to it, but it certainly seems like it's there. An obvious dance track, it works pretty well and the rhymes are spit with a nerdy sort of humor that is pretty much classic Bloodhound Gang. The ending section of the track changes the style up, making for a better dance track than what I hear in the majority of modern Hip Hop music. “American Bitches” is a weird melancholy acoustic that seems to be both depressing and comedic at the same time. “Chew Toy” brings the electronic rap back, but with a more simplified sense that actually works for them. The song is obviously comparing a woman to meat, which is obviously problematic and oh noes, but it's pretty damn funny to hear “When I see you, I see steak” as the main chorus number. “Uncool As Me” features Joey Fatone who adds backup vocals to the cut, almost making it like a comedic duet. There's definitely some Weezer influence to be found here, as most people will notice.

“Clean Up In Aisle Sexy” goes back to electronic rap about sex, bringing along more of a dance/rave atmosphere as well. “Diary Of A Stranger” finally changes things up to allow for a New Wave piece. I'm quite a fan of the style and obviously the genre revival, so I was a bit glad to hear this one. The lyrics are all comical, but at least the musical element is there. “Socially Awkward Penguin” continues the melancholic rock style, which seems to poke fun at emos. Unfortunately, it seems to come off as a pretty decent piece as well. What really surprises me is that these guys are what, forty now? These are the kinds of lyrics I'd expect them to write when they were twenty. Very bizarre. I'm guessing there are notebooks full of this stuff from the past and that's where this material came from. “Think Outside The Box” is another electronic rap track about a guy who's considering having sex with a groupie or other woman of ill-repute. “We're Gonna Bring The Party To You” is definitely a tribute to one of the band's biggest influences, The Beastie Boys and it's a pretty good way to end what I'd consider a rather awkward listen. There's one more piece here, which isn't even worth mentioning. At the end of the day, I still have to ask the question: Can a record be comedic and musically proficient at the same time? Musically and even vocally, the record seems to deliver exactly what it wants to. But the lyrical fodder is so much chaff that I don't even know if it's suitable for human consumption. Bit too late for that, as the record's been out for a while now, but if you're a nerd or geek and a socially awkward penguin yourself, you might find something in this. I will say that it was much better than I would have expected from a band at this stage and after ten years of dormancy, I've heard far worse. At least they didn't ruin what worked for them and it certainly sounds like a Bloodhound Gang record. Just keep in mind that it is comedy.

(11 Tracks, 38:00)


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