Reel Big Fish Cheer Up

Okay, the secret is out, Reel Big Fish are no longer a ska band. Sure, Cheer Up has that ska-sounding guitar thing down, but so did Nofx on White Trash. They've got horns, but so do Rocket from the Crypt (and I dare you to call them ska). They've even got the silly ska band name, but that's just a red herring. So I tell you, Cheer Up is a rock'n'roll record, and a damn good one. You'd expect a band that spends as much time on soundtracks as Aerosmith to keep cranking out the high-royalty ska tracks, but the Fish back off and concentrate on putting out a honed rock record. Tracks like "Where Have You Been" and "Brand New Hero" have a softer, almost alt-rock sound, while a mixture of influences permeate "Drunk Again," "New York, New York" and "Rock'n'Roll is Bitchin'" (Lionel Ritchie, Sinatra, and every hair band, respectively). Their trademarked "pop-punk with ska leanings" sound is ever present but the pop punk is turned way up and the ska is definitely turned down. Like their previous records, Reel Big Fish's lyrics are always spot on - whether lyrically light or painfully serious relationship deconstructions - and you can count on them to mix it up so the tracks on the record never sound alike, lyrically or musically. I have to admit that I'm a confessed Reel Big Fish cynic, after all, three albums, and massive evolutions in sound throughout rarely maintain the same fan base, but I can tell you that this record will not disappoint anyone who stuck by them. (Jive)