Sometimes I think groups hit the big time thanks to sheer persistence. They hang around the perimeter of stardom releasing an album every year, touring constantly, and they treat their loyal fans well. The Flaming Lips quickly come to mind as one of those sorts of bands that just kept trying until somebody decided they might as well let them in on the big game. No Use For A Name are hoping they can be the latest overnight sensations that took over a decade to make it with their latest Fat Wreck Chords release; Keep Them Confused.
They will be going out on the road this summer with the WARP Tour which should give you a good idea of the style of music No Use For A Name (NUFAN) likes to play if you are unfamiliar with them. We’re talking leavened and sweetened punk rock in a style I dubbed twizzler rock many years ago since the music was sweet, but the lyrics were tougher than most bubblegum songs. It’s a good portion of the sound of the modern rock charts as Green Day, Blink-182, Good Charlotte, and Sum-41 have all seen their bank accounts turn green over the last decade with their catchy songs and punk posturing. NUFAN’s new one should please their current skate rocking fans even though it is slightly slicker than previous albums, but will it go over big with the kids who buy their music at department stores?
Keep Them Confused begins with the sticky, sweet pop of “Part Two” and then heads for emo land on “There Will Be Revenge” before going for the jugular with “For Fiona”, the first single from the album. It is an archetype of pop punk meeting emo with its hushed instrumentation at the beginning before launching into the Jimmy Eat World type verses. It’s a good song, but it all sounds so formulaic these days. Somewhere I hear Mike Love going, “so what if it’s formulaic, remember my rule: don’t mess with the formula!” NUFAN maintains some hardcore punk credibility with “Bullets” which tackles Christianity and “Killing Time” which is an anti-war song that pulls no punches. My favorite track was “It’s Tragic” which has a rocking intro that’s pleasantly aggressive.
Keep Them Confused ultimately is more filler for teenagers ticked off at the world hoping they can finally learn how to ollie over the trashcan in the driveway. It’s neither great nor is it bad. If you’re a NUFAN fan you’re going to like the album. If Keep Them Confused gets enough airplay this summer it could be a hit and while I don’t usually wish for mediocre music to rise to the top of the charts, it would be pretty cool if NUFAN’s persistence paid off in a big way.