As the leader of NOFX since their early-'80s inception, Fat Mike penned hundreds of punk rock tunes as campy as they were snotty, dropping cheeky one-liners or toilet humor over snarling guitars and rowdy tempos. It makes perfect sense, then, that Mike would eventually channel some of his campy wit and knack for simple hooks into a punk rock musical, which is exactly what he, NOFX, and a cast of many supporting players deliver on Home Street Home: Original Songs from the Shit Musical. The production has a typically irreverent veneer, mocking tired musical theater clichés by recasting them in goofy punk rock themes, the story vaguely following the character of 16-year-old runaway Sue, who leaves an abusive home to fall in with a crew of homeless gutter punks. Bawdy pop-punk tunes like "Urban Campers," "Bearly Legal," and "Gutter Tarts" sound like standard NOFX blasters, but the majority of the songs actually tend toward more traditional musical territory, ranging from sorrowful piano ballads like "Missing Child" to vaudevillian fare on the drug-friendly anthem "High Achievers." The production and performances are highly polished, with guest spots from members of Alkaline Trio, No Use for a Name, Dance Hall Crashers, and a myriad of other punk bands, as well as excellent vocals from Broadway regular Lena Hall who won a Tony Award for her role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Home Street Home, with all its punk flag-waving, lyrics about begging for spare change, and errant approach, ultimately feels like a fairly direct and mostly mainstream production. Following the exploits of these fictional homeless teens through the 18 pristine, pitch-perfect songs that make up the soundtrack ends up feeling paradoxically sterile and safe. The songs are catchy and their narrative arc is interesting, but without offering much in the way of divergence from the tried-and-true tropes of Broadway.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas