Boston ska-punk crew Big D and the Kids Table had always leaned to the punk side of things. As with many third wave ska revival acts, they were more about blasting fast and reckless tunes that just happened to be flavored with spirited horns than ever really trying to re-create the straightforward sounds of the rudeboys and rudegirls before them. Well, that focus has flipped for the band's SideOneDummy debut, Strictly Rude. As if the title weren't enough of a tip-off, Big D have not only significantly fine-tuned their approach to be much more rooted in traditional ska and dub (adding in an organ and melodica as well), but the guys are also more assured and composed as compared to their unruly past. Yet though it sounds like Ritalin was invested in before hitting the studio, the gang's inherent sense of mischief and lighthearted fun successfully emerges intact. Strictly Rude is as cool as a summer night and some of the most checkered fun to be had in the early 2000s. Big D are absolutely at the top of their game, and with lyrics deeply rooted in their Allston neighborhood (most explicitly heard in bright cuts like "Steady Riot" and "Shining On"), this album is all about finding the pleasures in life's little things -- drinking after work, sunny days, house parties, and simply kicking back with friends. David McWane's singsongy, matter-of-fact vocals have a genuinely endearing quality that keeps songs light, especially when he draws out pronunciations, even when hitting more serious topics like political activism ("Try Out Your Voice") or necessary tolerance ("Hell on Earth"). Fellow Bostonian and producer Joe Gittleman of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones was the perfect copilot for this album; he keeps everything clean and loose, and allows the focus to stay on the band's sweet and steady rhythms. Whether in the caffeinated revelry of "Noise Complaint" or the deep grooves of "Snakebite" and "Relocate the Beat," the album's chilled-out atmosphere remains superbly inviting and the songs so damn fresh sounding. But even more impressive is that Big D have managed to transition easily from brash rebellion into smooth ska-laden bliss without sacrificing any of the carefree spirit and youthful vibes of their past. They're still very much "a crazy infestation of the truly un-cool." Someone let the eyelinered dance-punk bands of the 2000s know they have it all wrong -- the true fun to be had is in the not so dead world of ska. And with Big D and the Kids Table as the main host, the party has never sounded better.
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AllMusic Review by Corey Apar