NOFX

Self Entitled

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With the release of their 12th studio album, Self Entitled, SoCal punkers NOFX approach 30 years of unleashing bursts of brash, snotty skatepunk upon the world, avoiding the major-label sellout the entire time but at this point still very much a career band. Over the many years, singer Fat Mike and crew have approached variations on the same themes repeatedly: fast and aggressive melodic punk with bratty vocals, occasional political underpinnings or commentary, and the kind of assessment of the inner workings of punk that punk bands have been obsessed with since very early into the subculture's beginnings. Self Entitled doesn't see NOFX branching out much, musically, lyrically, or stylistically. The band doesn't take an if-it-ain't-broke stance as much as the aging punkers are self-aware within their role as a decades-running band, and any growth within their institution is going to be personal more than musical. Some of the album's best moments come in the glimpses into this self-awareness. The song "Cell Out" looks lightheartedly at the contradictions of the band's long run, opening with the lyrics "She asked me if I was a singer then called me a has-been/She said she really liked my band in the early '90s." On "I've Got One Jealous Again, Again," Fat Mike's precocious humor translates the end of a relationship (or possibly a marriage) into a list of how the joint record collection was split up. It's pure record nerd territory, even down to the title referencing an early Black Flag EP and sadly looking at the inevitability of love ending sourly as shared musical tastes can't keep a love together. Lyrics about being willing to let 20 years spent living together fade away before giving up your punk records offer a dire look at a broken home made up of one-dimensional characters, but feel unquestionably real in their bleakness. These glimmers of realness are far more fulfilling and relatable than when the band plays into its well-worn schtick, as on the annoyingly juvenile "72 Hookers" or the tired semi-cautionary junkie tale told on "She Didn't Lose Her Baby." Paired with the obligatory songs about agnosticism and a few vague social commentaries here and there, NOFX have turned in yet another album true to their roots in comical high-energy punk. There's nothing outstanding here but fans of the band will have no complaints, and for newcomers it's as good a starting point as any, with arguably the same ratio of clever understated brilliance to uninspired mediocrity as any other phase of their discography.

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