By Faintest Idea
'Ignorance Is This' from Norfolk based Faintest Idea, is the sort of ska-punk that plays down the chirpiness usually associated with the genre. If you're a fan of punk, but find that the Less Than Jake style of ska tends to set your teeth on edge, then it's worth giving 'Ignorance Is This' a spin.
'Criminals' and 'Broken Record' strike a careful balance between the instant catchiness of ska, and its tendency to irritate. Both offer an abrasive tumble of sloppy guitars and ranting vocals, with the occasional, perfectly timed brass note picking a tune out of the chaos. 'Broken Record' is the strongest of the two, adding a gooey, melodic core of main and backing vocal interplay to the mix. 'Criminals' is stealthily catchy, while 'Broken Record' will have you torn between humming and head-banging.
Faintest Idea have a knack for placing each trombone and saxophone note in exactly the right place, always getting the maximum benefit without swamping the song with brass. These perfectly pitched brass embellishments are the sole reason why anyone would give the otherwise bog-standard punk-rock rattle of 'Dead Future' a second listen. '2 Years Conscription' offers a glimpse into what Faintest Idea would sound like without their trombone and saxophonist and, although it's a scathing outpouring of punk-rock bile, after listening to the rest of 'Ignorance Is This,' it's definitely missing something.
'Fight For Progress, 'Rational Pride,' 'Bully Boy' and 'Too Bad' see the band embrace additional ska leanings, whilst still managing to make the genre their own. 'Fight For Progress' has that funky groove typically associated with ska, but Faintest Idea put a new spin on an old staple, by relying on twitching chords to bring that skank-happy rhythm, rather than piping brass. Faintest Idea also have a few tricks up their collective sleeves when it comes to 'Rational Pride' and album highlight 'Bully Boy.' 'Rational Pride' ricochets a quick shudder of brass off some phlegmy vocals, and powers the whole thing with some seriously punk guitars, while 'Bully Boy's snappy vocal work on the chorus blows some much-needed fresh air into the ska genre.
The same can't be said for 'Too Bad,' which very nearly ends up sounding like ska-punk 101, but Faintest Idea manage to pull the song back into original territory, by putting a twist on the vocals: the backing vocals crunch, while the main vocal has a reggae flavour. Sadly, they finally lose the battle to sound original when it comes to 'Western World.' If ska sets your teeth on edge, you'll hate this, and if you love ska, you'll have heard this exact same song performed by a hundred other ska bands.
'This Is The System' is 'Ignorance Is This's experimental track, and the sort of shock to the system that's needed at this late point in album. Beginning as a long, lazy spiral of brass, swirled with echoes and distortion, it then gradually moves back towards the album's ska and punk roots. This is the best sort of trade-off between stepping out of your comfort zone, and still sounding like yourself.
Rather than churning out ska-punk 101, 'Ignorance Is This' takes solid punk songs and then uses the trombone and saxophone to emphasise the tune already there. An album for both punk fans who usually find that ska grates on their nerves, and ska-punk fans who are getting tired of the same old ska tricks.