It’s been 4 years since Nofx’s last album, 2012’s ‘Self Entitled’, a gap longer than they have left between albums before. With all the turmoil going on in frontman ‘Fat’ Mike Burkett’s life and his recent decision to rehab for alcohol & drug addiction, you’d be forgiven for thinking this has had adverse effects on the band, Quite the contrary, they have used this to craft one of their strongest albums to date.
Written as an accompaniment to their warts and all biography ‘Hepatitis Bathtub And Other Stories’, ‘First Ditch Effort’ runs the emotional gamete with some of the darkest and most honest material the band have ever released. Tracks like Opening salvo ‘Six Years On Dope’ & ‘Happy Fathers Day’ setting the tone for the unflinching honesty the band wanted to put out in their lyrical content. There is still evidence of the bands social commentary on tracks ‘Californa Drought’ which could dually be referencing Mike new found sobriety and the brilliant Pharma baiting ‘Oxy Moronic’. Their trademark humour is present on the ridiculously catchy ‘I’m A Transvet-Lite with Mike referencing his love of wearing woman’s clothes in his own unique and unabashedly honest way with a melody to die for. They toy with synth hooks on the crazily catchy ‘It Ain’t Lonely At The Bottom’ to great success in my opinion. There is a wonderful tribute to ‘No Use For A Name’ vocalist Tony Sly on ‘I’m So Sorry Tony’ a slow acoustic start building into a full, fitting punk rock eulogy. The album finishes with the dark and ruthlessly honest Generation Z, a damning indictment of today’s world careening toward certain and inevitable destruction.
This album comes in stark contrast to the other big punk release on the same day, Green Day’s glossy, uber produced ‘Revolution Radio’, although containing some of the bands strongest material in years, it didn’t feel very honest. ‘First Ditch Effort’ is ugly, dark and honest and because of all these facets, a beautiful piece of work.