The Classic Years

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Handily collecting the various singles the band released in the early '90s, along with a variety of tracks that hadn't surfaced until then, The Classic Years gives a fine overview of Fluf's familiar but more than fine way around punk-pop with a hard rock edge. Kicking off with the snarling anthem "24-7 Years," a slow burn buildup that explodes on the choruses in solid Pixies/Nirvana style, the various songs find the trio trying out various one-offs to see what works while also crafting defiant statements of purpose. No less than three covers appear, collectively showing the band's striking range. Selecting the Overwhelming Colorfast to tackle shows the sign of a record obsessive at work (and as the liner notes proclaim for "Song in D," "finally no ridiculous mandolin solo!"). More intriguing are the remakes of PJ Harvey's "Sheela-Na-Gig" and the Spinanes' "Entire," both of which are assayed with no lyrical changes and no sense of dumb irony. They're good songs and Fluf treat them as such, an approach any number of other bands would do well to keep in mind. O's original lyrics throughout aim again for the warm, friendly tone that suits him perfectly, slipping in sometimes vicious self-criticisms along the way (check out the regretful "Dumpling"). Collectively the band rock out and then some, at times barreling ahead viciously as on "Skyrocket," other times taking it easier, which the instrumental "The Troll Song" shows. A brilliant statement of purpose for the band comes with "All the Fuckers Live in Newport Beach," slamming the rich Orange County coastal enclave with the words of someone who knows. To quote a key lyric: "Rich and lame are words of choice to explain the beach/All the girls they seem so close, without your money they're just out of reach."

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