War on Errorism, NOFX's umpteenth collection of snide skatecore, is a half-great collection of the bratty double-time anthems dominated by Fat Mike's snotty, sarcastic vocals. But while the album bristles with broad political criticism, it also lays out rhetoric that seems to present an isolationist punk rock policy of its own. Included with War on Errorism is the trailer for Unprecedented, a documentary that traces the bizarre events of the 2000 presidential election. This is accompanied by a handwritten op-ed piece by Fat Mike, Smelly, El Hefe, and Melvin, in which the band does a little consciousness raising around the vert ramp. "The U.S. is now the butt of a worldwide joke," they write, in reference to the election hullabaloo. "All everyone keeps saying is 'get over it' or 'that was so two years ago.' Well, we're not getting over it and neither should you." Musically, NOFX fuses its political cynicism with criticism of punk rock itself, and suggests that the best thing for all the kids and the bands might be to close ranks and start their own little hardcore community. "Irrationality of Rationality" and "Franco Un-American" -- two of the album's most melodic, catchy songs -- are also two of War on Errorism's most biting commentaries. The first personalizes the trickle-down effect of corporate decision-making over a lockstep hardcore rhythm; the second gets all new wavy as Fat Mike reasons out his own world view, and somehow rhymes "apathy" with "Noam Chomsky."
While NOFX makes its politics clear throughout the album, it also has ideas and questions about its own scene. "Separation of Church and Skate" wonders about the homogeny of punk in the 21st century, and the loss of danger in rock & roll. Later, "Mattersville" presents the blueprint for a California hardcore retirement community, a neighborhood of punks, where the cops can't come in and there's always beer and cheese. It's a fantasy, an update of Screeching Weasel's "Punkhouse." But it might also be a reaction to the heady subjects bandied about in War on Errorism's activist moments. In a subdivision surrounded by bands, punks, and skaters, no one would have to worry about bombs, evildoers, and those who put the "mock" back in "democracy" (from the seething "Re-gaining Unconsciousness"). War on Errorism is long on rhetoric, but it still fires off a few uncontrolled bursts of NOFX humor. "She's Nubs" is a crass yet sadly hilarious tribute to a handicapped fan; "Medio-core" channels the Dead Milkmen as it rips on rock & roll's ongoing regurgitation. The songs don't exactly jibe with War on Errorism's more serious sections. But if NOFX suddenly became all serious, America might really have a problem on its hands.