I knew you when you were you, before they twisted all your views, before you came unglued

Streetlight Manifest is probably the only redeeming thing about New Jersey. Everything Goes Numb is still my favorite third wave Ska album, if for no other reason than that it is ridiculously fast, though its morbidity is also kind of a nice touch. Fast, awesome, literary songs about the absurdity of life are, of course, right up my alley, so I was hoping that the new album, Somewhere In Between would include some of the same elements.

Awesome and morbid, it definitely is, though fast and literary it is not. Aesthetically, everything is slower and sounds more like a modernized reggae or rocksteady album than a ska album. The only literary references, as far as I can tell, are Biblical. Littered through the album are references to salvation, purgatory, and unfulfilled prophecy. The overwhelming thematic element of response to sin and judgement is kind of strange. I can't decide if it is supposed to succeed all of the references to death in Everything Goes Numb, or if the whole album is supposed to deliver commentary about the inability of religion (or maybe other valorized ideologies) to deliver on their promises ("no one here can save you, why would they try when they can't quite save themselves"). A couple of the biblical allusions are hilarious ("The Blonde Lead the Blind") while the obsession with death definitely carries through with the same temerity as before ("nobody's gonna hold your hand on the day you die").

There are a couple of songs that straddle the fence between being songs about love or politics, and a few others about memory and responsibility. "Down, Down, Down to Mephisto's Cafe," apparently intended to be on Catch 22's Keasby Nights before Tomas Kalnoky left, is my favorite song for perhaps that reason. Other songs like "Watch It Crash" have those big loud choruses that makes Streetlight Manifesto so awesome.

Streetlight Manifesto: Down, Down, Down to Mephisto's Cafe


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