Off With Their Heads – Home
I will start this review with a statement that will surprise, shock or perhaps even scare some of our readers. There is a track on Home that totally reminds me of Eels. Or maybe a really depressing Weezer song. This track is called Don’t Make Me Go and it’s my absolute favorite song on this album. Singer Ryan Young let’s go of his trademark raspy snarl for a few minutes and actually sings over a simple but driving bass and guitar line. It’s almost hypnotic, I just can’t stop listening to that song.
So has Off With Their Heads fully given in to the urge to experiment on their third full length album, their second for Epitaph? Fortunately not. As soon as Ryan opens proceedings by stating “There are no words to describe the awful feeling I have inside, so I shut down…” were immediately back in OWTH-land, where Ryan fights his inner demons and ever lurking clinical depression over deceivingly up-beat and cheerful punk rock. Compared to it’s predecessor In Desolation, the rough edges from the band’s early days have been smoothed out even more. The overall atmosphere is somewhat less rowdy, the Wooohooohooo-dial has been turned up a few notches further and Ryan’s vocals have become more diverse, without ever losing that distinct Off With Their Heads touch.
Lyricly, it´s nothing we’ve never heard before. The dude is still in a lot of pain, on a lot of medication, alone all the time, unable to connect to people and basicly just a sarcastic, self-loathing, depressed human pile of misery, but somehow he sounds more hopeful than before. First single Nightlife basically picks up were In Desolation’s closing track Clear The Air left off, with Ryan trying to explain why he is the way he is and asking for some form of understanding and maybe even some help. Focus On Your Family is even downright positive and motivational, while Alter Boy, in which he addresses people’s need to let religion into their life, is surprisingly mild coming from the guy who once wrote a song called I May Be A Lot Of Shitty Things, But At Least I’m Not A Rapist Like You.
While all familiar Off With Their Heads ingredients are present, Home somehow doesn’t really give me that awesome kick in the nuts their previous work did. Maybe it’s too much of a ‘been there, done that, have the t-shirt’ feel, maybe it’s just because especially the second half of the record kind of lacks truly memorable anthems like I am You, Eyes of Death, Until The Day… or Their Own Medicine. I can’t help but feel songs like Always Alone and Janie, a re-recording of a more obscure track from OWTH’s sheer endless back-catalogue of splits and singles, are fillers. Kind of.
That being said, I highly doubt any Off With Their Heads enthusiast will be truly disappointed by this album and it will undoubtedly pop up in many a yearlist come December. It’s a really, really, really good punk rock record from one of the leading bands active today. It’s just not another totally awesome one like I hoped.