Album 0006: Reel Big Fish – We’re Not Happy ‘Til You’re Not Happy

Release Date: 2005
Genre: Ska/Punk

Tracklisting:

1. The Fire (03:06)
2. Drinkin’ (03:26)
3. Don’t Start A Band (03:18)
4. A-W-E-S-O-M-E (03:33)
5. We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful (02:24)
6. Turn The Radio Off (02:39)
7. Talkin’ Bout A Revolution (03:25)
8. The Bad Guy (03:32)
9. Story Of My Life (04:10)
10. The Joke’s On Me (03:50)
11. One Hit Wonderful (04:19)
12. Last Show (03:03)
13. Say Goodbye (04:09)
14. Your Guts (I Hate ‘Em) (02:07)
15. Beer (03:54)
16. Way Back (15:27)

Total Length: 01:06:19

Everything that came together to make this album makes it probably one of the oddest in Reel Big Fish’s catalog. A few of the songs had been written for about 5-6 years at that point, Aaron Barrett had full control for the first time, the album ended a concept that was begun nearly 10 years prior, and the writing was more pissed off than ever. It’s an interesting album in itself and the events surrounding it. The Fire is a fun song with a cool chorus, and I like it. Drinkin’ is the first of the slightly older songs (first bootleg recordings has the band playing this live in 2002/2003) and is really good.

Don’t Start A Band starts the mean-train (Aaron calls it the meanest song he ever wrote). This song also starts the sort of ‘concept’ I mentioned. RBF have never done a full concept album in the traditional sense, but this album and two others have had a unifying sense of theme in what some of the songs are about. One album is about the rise of a band to success, another is a band that is successful and their first taste from their of going down, and this album is about a band past their prime and on the downfall. It’s a pretty neat idea, I think.

A-W-E-S-O-M-E is okay, I don’t really like the vocal production on it, and the song itself is sort of boring. The entire production on this album is kind of odd. It’s not bad necessarily, just very stylized and purposefully meant to be a certain way. Aaron’s production has definitely improved since this album, but he still knew what he was doing here. We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful is a cover, and it’s pretty fun, which is what the fans were wanting out of this album. Turn The Radio Off is sort of an older song. Aaron wanted to write a song with this title in 1998, but couldn’t really get it to work or dropped the idea for a few years. The chorus is really neat, and the horn riff is interesting in a disorienting way. Talkin’ Bout A Revolution is another cover, and provides a calm reggae point for a bit.

The Bad Guy has some more ‘mean’ lyrics, but is contrasted by the upbeat music. Kind of a staple RBF tradition. Story Of My Life is once more a cover, and I’m not terribly fond of it. I enjoy it, but I think it goes on a bit too long. The Joke’s On Me is inspired by the 80s but sadly isn’t that great. One Hit Wonderful should be better than it is. They go for a sort of ballad style on it and it doesn’t work, but I like the idea behind the lyrics. Also some cool production stuff with the radio spots and the muzak version of Sell Out. Last Show has that same contrast as The Bad Guy. It’s lyrics are about a former band member, and the music is very positive. Say Goodbye is an absolutely fantastic song, I love the music and lyrics and everything.

Your Guts (I Hate ‘Em) is kind of the last of the older songs, they had been playing this song with different lyrics since 2000, and this is the final version now as they play it live. Just a really fun short song with, again, mean lyrics. I said ‘kind of’ just a second ago because the next song, Beer, is of course a rerecorded version of that ever-popular RBF track. Aaron was going to put it on because he felt it should have been rerecorded, and to provide some sort of circular thing to that overall concept. He kind of abandoned the idea upon realizing how similar it is to the original overall. It still got released as a bonus track. The other bonus track, Way Back, I can only assume got cut as an attempt to give Japan their own bonus track, as is unfortunately per usual. It’s a fun, silly song. It only lasts about 2:35, and remainder of the track is sort a bonus thing, it has odd loops and backwards talking, and one really loud section that completely craps out to 0dB on purpose. Very weird and kind of reminds me of some post rock with the droning and voice clips. Certainly their strangest hidden track.

I enjoy this album overall, despite the odd production and a song here or there I don’t care for. I appreciate that the band tried something new, but this was kind of a low point for the band, which eventually did get better. It’s fun to listen to, but not my first choice for the band.

Final Rating: 7.5/10

As one extra note, there was one more bonus track for this album called Cannibal. It was rerecorded two years later, but the original version for this album had much more of an 80s sound and was a bit slower. As far as I know it was only available for streaming for a short period, but if anyone knows of a higher quality version anywhere, please let me know.

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