NOFX - Self Entitled

04 November, 2012

By Red


They aren't many things as disconcerting as ageing rockers pretending that time doesn't affect them. Like dads trying to be cool in front of their teenage son, or Ministers pretending to listen to Dizzee Rascal on their Ipod, it's just embarrassing for everyone involved.


 Rock music has always been about youth, and all that this entails: rebellion, non-conformity, sticking it to the man, any man really, and doing your own fucking thing. Rock music can, and should, be described in two words only: fuck authority.


This creates a conundrum for most bands.  Should they die young, and achieve legendary status (a la Hendrix, Lennon, Jim Morrison) , or do you grow old and become a variety show performer, entertaining elderly couples on luxury cruise ships, and becoming everything you previously railed against (a la Rolling Stones, Axl Rose)?


As a fan, I want my music idols to die young. But as a human being, I suppose I should allow them to grow old (dis)gracefully.


After 25 years in the business, spawning 12 LPs, with band members pushing 40, and a fan base that's starting to resemble a WWII veterans reunion, NOFX are edging dangerously close to cruise ship material. That is not to say I hope they die in a plane crash, choking on their own vomit while being shot by a madman outside their apartment. But it does mean I get a slight sense of dread every time a new album comes out.


And yet, NOFX have never done things conventionally. They went from straight-edge, teetotal, apolitical punks in their 20s, to ecstasy-popping-festival-playing-Republican-hating punks in their 40s. The older they got, the more drugs they took (cfPump up the Valuum), the more radical their politics became (cfThe War on Errorism), and the more fun they had (cfCoaster).


What should I then expect from this reverse-ageing process? Lullabies? A punk cover of the Bob the Builder? Hip-hop?


Their latest album, 'Self (en)titled', picks up where'Coaster'left off. It's a fast-paced album, tightly wrapped, containing 30 minutes of melodic punk rock, without any room for extraneous waffle. So far, so ok.


 The album kicks off with '72 Virgins', a semi-serious take on international war studies. And whilst one might not agree with their geopolitical analysis('When everyone's getting blowjobs, that's when we'll have world peace'), or their insights into terrorism('Maybe if they could see a woman's face, they wouldn't get on that plane, with a bomb in their suitcase'), it's a typical NOFX track: irreverent, blasphemous, silly, but not completely retarded.


'I Believe in Goddess'is a further exploration of Fat Mike's taste for S&M, a fetish that has been expounded upon in previous albums, (most notably on 'S&M Airlines'), and it contains some pretty decent lines ('I don't believe in God, I believe in Goddess, I don't believe in prayer but I believe in worship').


'Ronnie & Mags'is the next track, a slightly nostalgic and oddly-timed piss-take on 80s politics('Let's go on holiday in the Falklands, we'll send a slice of cake to Bobby Sands'), but it's the follow-up song, 'She Didn't Lose Her Baby', which marks a departure from the usual frivolous nonsense cooked up by Fat Mike & Co: a song about a drug-addicted mother and her struggle to get her baby back from social services is the kind of tune you'd expect from the Levellers, not NOFX. It is emotional, touching, slightly tear-jerking, and while it sits oddly with the start of the album, it ushers in a few more tracks covering Fat Mike's avrious insecurities('I, Fatty', and 'Cell Out', 'My Sycophant Other') and his divorce('I've Got One Jealous Again, Again').


And this is where the ageing rock star thing kicks in.  I just don't think punk rock is an appropriate genre for these kinds of songs. The discrepancy between the tone of the lyrics and the music seems unbridgeable. The irreverence and loutishness of punk rock isn't suited to complex analysis of health and social issues. Divorce can be a difficult subject, but no one wants to hear about Johnny Rotten's matrimonial woes.  This simply isn't punk material. It might work for acoustic guitar, hip-hop, opera, blues, or country. But it's just not punk.


In a strange way though, NOFX seem all too well aware of this ageing dilemma. In the song'Cell Out', transcribing a conversation between Fat Mike and a NOFX fan, he says:'She asked me if I was a singer, then called me has-been. She said she really liked my band in the early 90's'.


Having said all that, I still think this album is pretty good if you're already a NOFX fan. If not, then there are many better NOFX albums out there to start with:The War on Errorism, Punk in Drublic,orSo Long and Thanks For All the Shoesare all substantially better.


I don't want NOFX to die in convoluted circumstances, it's far too late for that, but I wouldn't mind if Fat Mike switched off the amp, picked up an acoustic, and gave us a solo album, a la post-Hot Water Music Chuck Ragan. Then, and only then, might I be comfortable listening to his stories about drug-addled mothers, lack of self-esteem and messy divorces. 





Primary Genre:  Punk Rock


Subgenre:  Melodic Punk Rock


Release Date:  11 September 2012


Label:  Fat Wreck Chords


Influences:  Descendents, Bad Religion, Dead Kennedies


Like This And You'll Probably Also Like:  Lagwagon, Pennywise, Bad Religion


Album Highlights:  72 Hookers, Down with the Ship, Secret Society











"Well... before listening to this, I thought it was going to be tough for me to get into this kind of music again, it's just been so long. I actually started by re-listening to their old stuff, the longest line, I even sat down and listened to the whole of Heavy Petting Zoo from beggining to end. And I had so much fun doing this, I felt like I had bunmped into some old friends form way back in the day. Which I guess is why when I finally got to 'Self Entitled', I just couldn't truly get into it enough, it felt a little underwealming and to be honest it helped validate why they were 'old' friends and not 'current' friends... so 5.5/10 from me on this one"






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Half Iroquois Chief, half Shaolin monk, a quarter Jewish, and a bit of French. Currently auditioning to play a cat in the musical: 'Punk Rock - Anarchy in the EU?
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