Less Than Jake drops their ninth studio album Silver Linings this Friday December 11, 2020 via Pure Noise Records. You may be asking yourself, “Why do we care what the metal guy thinks about Less Than Jake?” The truth is, Less Than Jake has been one of my favorites for as long as I can remember. Silver Linings is an amazing album that is as nostalgic as it is innovative and is the album everyone needs in 2020.
The album kicks off with the upbeat track, “The High Cost of Low Living.” The first thing I noticed was HORNS. GLORIOUS HORNS. The melody is so engaging and is a wall of sound that makes me want to jump up and skank right where I am. The song has an anthemic chorus that takes me straight back to high school listening to Hello Rockview. The a capella ending is the cherry on top of a tremendous album opener.
“Lie to Me” is the reason that I love Less Than Jake- the contrasting vocal styles of Chris DeMakes and Roger Lima have always created my favorite tracks by the band. This song is catchy and has the perfect balance of upbeats and horn fills to make me nostalgic and eager for more.
“Keep On Chasing” has a different kind of feel to it that really stands out. I like the ascending run that the guitar and vocals do throughout the verse and the backing vocals pop at the right time to make the key change into the chorus stand out. “Anytime and Anywhere” is a strong horn and bass song. It’s one of those tracks that’s melodically based around a strong horn intro, but Lima’s bass line in the verse shows why he is the gold standard for ska/punk bassists. The bridge for this song is one of the highlights of the album for me.
“The Test” is a shift in the other direction. It’s upbeat and driven by the story in the lyrics. One of the reasons Less Than Jake has had the staying power they have enjoyed is their ability to stay relatable. I always feel something when I listen to their music. This song would have fit right in on Anthem, which for what it’s worth is one of my favorite albums of all time. Seems fitting that this is my favorite track on this album.
“Dear Me” comes out of the gate with quick punk beat and pushes forward to a half-time chorus. The time changes are really unique and the bass line in the transition ties the whole thing together. It’s also a song about missing out on life being attached to your phone, which hits home. “Monkey Wrench Myself” is another fun, upbeat, horn laden track. Again, the bass takes center stage here. It has an over-the-top chorus that is one of the most engaging on the album. “King of the Downside” is a song that stands out for a lot of reasons. The horn pops in the intro are really cool- it’s got a whole different feel. Vocally, it seems like the style that Lima would usually sing, but this is a DeMakes-fronted song. Not sure if that’s a nod to the style of the band, but as a fan it was cool to hear.
“Lost at Home” has a strong reggae ska vibe, breaking up the album and showing off the band’s depth. The heavy trombone slides that Buddy Schaub drops in the transitions are mesmerizing! “Move” shines with an engaging chorus that has some of the biggest crossover appeal on the album. Something about this track reminds me a lot of “The Brightest Bulb Has Burned Out,” and really takes me back. “Bill” starts off with a chant that grabs my attention and transitions into a song that channels Losing Streak vibes. “So Much Less” closes the album out with a slower, melodic but powerful track. The horns really pop with the slower tempo and there’s an overall tropical feel throughout.
Silver Linings is one of Less Than Jake’s best works yet, and that says a lot. You can preorder the album now or make sure to grab a copy this Friday, even if Johnny Quest thinks you are a sellout and all of your friends are metalheads.