Sound: Having been dropped from their label in 2006, Reel Big Fish finally felt relieved -- the relationship with Jive Records weren't too god lately. By that time they already knew what it's like when people don't know how to promote your music and even what to call you. There was no other way out than to start own label and finally feel free to do whatever strikes them! They were planning to make a compilation of b-sides and rarities, but eventually started writing new songs, which turned out into a new album, called Monkeys For Nothin' And The Chimps For Free.
Out of 17 tracks on the CD some were borrowed from the band's '90s demos, some from album sessions that didn't fit the scheme and from the band's debut album Everything Sucks. The new songs feature the band's new happy vision of life. With so many different tracks written in different times all on one album, frontman Aaron Berratt, who also produced it, managed to make the record sound solid. Famous for their passion to covers, Reel Big Fish couldn't avoid a cover track on the album. This it is Phil Collins' Another Day In Paradise. Reel Big Fish made it harder, ska-beat and of course with horns. A lot of tracks feature the mix of different music styles, including occasional rock guitar solos.
The band claims Monkeys For Nothin' And The Chimps For Free is one of the easiest records they've ever created. And you can feel it listening to the album -- it is a chilling and positive CD thanx to both it's lyrics and music. // 8
Lyrics: The lyrics are very straight-forward. Unlike those songwriters that try to veil the meaning of the songs, singing about nothing in particular, Reel Big Fish are quite obvious. You told that son of a bitch to get out of the place or you'll punch him in the face -- you don't have to rack your brains with lyrics like that. In Everybody's Drunk the guys sing about puking, trash cans and other necessary attributes of a real party. The track's sing-alone chorus makes it a perfect one to sing at a party.
Another F.U. Song is probably the song with the most F words in it -- there are about 30 f--ks per minute. It stars with the words Hi kids, it's time to use the F word! A great song to sing if you feel pissed off and need something to cheer you up. The vocals are party/lets-sing-together style. Vocalist Aaron Barrett is more shouting than actually singing. Some back vocals are done in Queen-style, adding a musical atmosphere to the song. // 7
Overall Impression: Having gained mainstream recognition in the late '90s, during the third wave of ska, the band still struggle in their genre, pleasing true ska punk fans. Releasing the album on their own record label, they don't care about the changes in the music world or new tendencies, as well as about the rules of songwriting or explicit lyrics. Leaving the song without the end or mixing all possible music genres in one track and swearing in every line makes their seal. The guys are very enthusiastic about their music. For quite a long time in their career they can finally do things their own way and it feels like they're celebrating the fact with Monkeys For Nothin' And The Chimps For Free. It may be not as radio-friendly or mass-oriented as their previous albums, but at least it has more of the band's identity, which makes the record interesting. // 8
- Kosh (c) 2007