A new lineup, new producers, and a fresh, improved sound make Punkrockacademyfightsong one of Down By Law's best, most consistent albums. Since the band's previous release Blue, vocalist/guitarist Dave Smalley was joined by an entirely new band (Hunter Oswald on drums and vocals, "Angry" John Di Mambro on bass, and Sam Williams III on lead guitar), as well as new producers Michael Douglass and Alex Reed. The result is a solid, polished album of raw punk rock. With the band sharing songwriting duties, the album runs the gamut from five-second punk rants, such as "Drummin' Dave Hunter Up" with its lyrics of "Retro sucks/Retro sucks/Everything about it sucks," to Smalley's stands against intolerance in the punk scene ("1944") and unoriginal Seattle-scene clones ("Haircut). There's even an uncharacteristically sweet love ballad, "Goodnight Song," that's a little cheesy but sincere. However, the stronger tracks tend to be those written by Oswald, who sticks with a more light-hearted approach as shown in "Flower Tattoo," a two-minute, hard-rocking track with the simple chorus "Hair is gold and her eyes are blue/I'm in love with the girl with the flower tattoo." Fortunately, Down By Law manages to successfully meld all these styles into one cohesive package that any punk fan can appreciate.
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AllMusic Review by Tracy Frey