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Reel Big Fish – We’re Not Happy ‘Til You’re Not Happy

When a band’s songs are titled “Don’t Start a Band,” “Turn the Radio Off,” “One Hit Wonderful,” “Your Guts (I Hate ‘Em),” and “We Hate it When Our Friends Become Successful,” (Okay, the last one’s a Morrissey cover, which pretty much speaks for itself), it’s terribly tempting to use all those titles to critique the band. They’re really asking for it. But that would be too easy, wouldn’t it?


Reel Big Fish claims that the theme on this album is “Fuck you, I hate the music business, I quit,” but denies rumors that they are indeed quitting. Instead, they’ve put together yet another pop-ska album with a splash of reggae and covers of classics like Tracy Chapman’s “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution” and Social Distortion’s “Story of My Life,” as well as the aforementioned Morrissey song.

It’s catchy, it’s poppy and it’s decent fun for a little while. But after the last screeches of the feedback-laced final song subside, the attitude gets a little old–after all, these guys have sold over a million records. Whining about success went out with a shotgun blast to Kurt Cobain’s head, and Reel Big Fish are nowhere near as artistically tortured as he was. After all, one of my earliest experiences with them was at Grad Nite in Disney World at my high school graduation.

I think perhaps they say it best on “Say Goodbye,” ostensibly a love song: “I know you feel like a whore/Working for a dream that isn’t even yours.” The song supposedly describes a breakup, but it could just as easily describe a burned-out pop band.


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