Review: Descendents – Hypercaffium Spazzinate
National Music Reviews
Descendents = Circle Jerks x Black Flag + Ramones + The Adolescents
Oh worshipers of the mighty All, I had a dream—the Bass Master General came to me, and he said, “Listen of this album, for it is my child.” Then the music entered me, and I became hyper—this is Hypercaffium Spazzinate.
The Descendents are considered by many to be one of the greatest punk bands of all time, having helped lay down the foundation of ’90s punk revival, melodic hardcore and pop punk while basically embodying what every punk rocker is at their core—weird, awkward, often nerdy misfits just looking for some solace. And here they are, decades later. They may not be kids anymore, and Milo Aukerman may have graduated college some time ago, but they’re still weird, they’re still nerds, and they’re still fucking awesome!
Hypercaffium Spazzinate is the first full-length the Descendents have released since 2004’s Cool To Be You and also since they reformed in 2010. Since then, the members have been “achieving all,” with Bill Stevenson and Stephen Egerton both delving into the production side of music and playing with FLAG, Karl Alvarez showing his vocal and guitar chops in Underminer and the Vultures, and Aukerman officially putting all of his focus to the Descendents after growing bored with biochemistry. But think about it—12 years is a long time to have not released any new material, but lately, it seems that most punk rock bands who have taken long breaks since the 2000s are coming back with unbelievable music.
So, how does the Descendents’ long-awaited seventh album fit on the spectrum? Well, their age definitely shows on this album, but in the best way possible. It embodies all the things that made them great while bringing it in a new light. For example, “On Paper” is about dealing with adult insecurities despite having a college degree and a perfect credit score. “No Fat Burger” talks about the band members omitting greasy burgers, cheesy fries and Weinerschnitzel from their diets due to cholesterol problems. “Limiter” plays a clever commentary on how pushing pills on the youth goes against the 12th All-O-Gistic: “Thou shalt not allow anything to deter you in your quest for all” (hence, if you limit yourself, you can’t achieve all). “Feel This” gives off an “Everything Sux” vibe with its mean guitar riff, hyperactive pace and rather gloomy lyrics. And, of course, there is “Victim of Me”—the leading single that marked the hype of new material with its lyrics of existentialism and mid-life plight.
The thing I love about the Descendents is that they have songs that are really deep-rooted in philosophy, the human condition, politics and gut-wrenching personal events—shit, they basically founded their own religion through an inside joke—then went right back to singing about coffee, food, farts and failed attempts at romance. There are few other bands that can do this so well. Granted, not all the songs hit bullseyes but this album showcases exactly what makes the Descendents such a great band: You have your long songs and your short songs, slow songs and fast songs, deep songs and fun songs—but they are always Descendents songs. –Eric U. Norris