BAD RELIGION: NO CONTROL (1989)
1) Change Of Ideas; 2) Big Bang; 3) No Control; 4) Sometimes I Feel Like; 5) Automatic Man; 6) I Want To Conquer The World; 7) Sanity; 8) Henchman; 9) It Must Feel Pretty Appealing; 10) You; 11) Progress; 12) I Want Something More; 13) Anxiety; 14) Billy; 15) The World Won't Stop.
As awkward as it is to say, No Control is only the very first Bad Religion album in the Bad Religion catalog that sounds exactly like its predecessor — meaning, apparently, that for the first time in their life Bad Religion hit upon a formula that they really, really liked. Or maybe they were just so proud that Suffer managed to sell a few thousand copies, it seemed like a good idea to try and do the same thing all over again. Surprisingly, it worked, and the next album already sold a few dozen thousand copies — an amazingly high record for a record that places its listener in between packs of pummeling, breakneck speed punk riffs and lyrics that can be qualified as poetic adaptations of everything from existentialism to neo-Marxism for the middle school level.
There is no way that a review of a 25-minute long album that sounds exactly like its 35-minute long predecessor could be longer than a few paragraphs, so here are just a few scattered observations on individual songs:
— ʽI Want Something Moreʼ runs for a record-short 0:47, of which the last eight seconds are brilliantly shaped into a one-breath coda. All of B.R.'s songs are «anthems», one way or another, but this one takes the cake as the greatest use of laconicity on a B.R. record, period;
— ʽSometimes I Feel Like...ʼ leaves the last slot in its title conspicuously open, to be occupied within the song itself by the album's only straightforward moment of musical gimmickry, and it does seem possible that Graffin sometimes feels himself like that, because, heck, don't we all?;
— ʽSanityʼ and the beginning of ʽProgressʼ slow down the tempo (although the latter quickly picks it up again) for no reason in particular, but the Gurewitz-Hetson guitar tone retains its nasty crunch regardless of the number of beats per second;
— ʽThe World Won't Stopʼ has the only example of the adverb phylogenetically that I can think of in a lyrical piece — and it is not that easy to pronounce it at that kind of speed, mind you. The song itself, melody-wise, is as non-descript as they come, but "Your achievements are unsurpassed / You are highly-ordered mass / But you can bet your ass / Your free energy will dissipate / Two billion years thus far / Now mister here you are / An element in a sea of enthalpic organic compounds" — boy, that's gotta count for something. We sure have come a long way here from "And I wanna move the town to the Clash city rocker, you need a little jump of electrical shocker", not to mention "beat on the brat with a baseball bat" — each of these lyrical approaches has its value and its effects, but Graffin's professorial verbosity seems unprecedented, regardless of whether one likes it or not.
Most importantly, No Control rocks with the exact same frenzy and conviction as Suffer. Penalizing it for recycling the already worn-out riffs would be silly — the whole idea here is to ask themselves the question: «Gee, that worked so well, can we do it again, but faster, tougher, even more focused and compact?..» and answer in the positive. Unoriginal, yes, but sometimes all you need is a little inspiration, a little fire, a little intelligence, and (last, but not least) a reasonably short running time, and you got yourself a certified thumbs up.
Check "No Control" (MP3) on Amazon