Off With Their Heads - From the Bottom
No Idea Records
It's finally here! After waiting for what seems like an eternity, I finally have a copy of Off With Their Heads' debut full length on No Idea! 2007 saw a whole host of splits and collections and all kinds of stuff that wasn't a full length, but now it's finally here, and it was worth the wait.
Starting off with "I Am You," it's obvious that the optimism Ryan showed in his lyrics on their split with The Measure (SA) is gone. Lyrics about hating life, not getting anything right, and sleeping alone. Ah, this is the Ryan that we know and love. I like that he extends his misery out onto the listener. "There's a little bit of me in everyone." And while we may not all be miserable to the point that he is, this record does a good job of not just wallowing in frustration and self-hatred. He's actually introspective!
As the record goes on, Ryan starts to analyze why he's as miserable as he is. He looks at what he did, what others have done to him, and why he's where he is now. This is evident on the penultimate track, "Ten Years Trouble," in which he looks at how he's been extremely selfish and hurt others, but also at the loss of people close to him and how the last ten years have pretty much been a disaster and how he's "always in pain, always in tears."
The music is pretty much what we've come to expect from Off With Their Heads, especially since this is the same lineup from 2006's Hospitals. There are your typical fast songs with catchy choruses, but they do a good job slowing it down at times. "Go On Git Now" is the first example of this, and shows that they aren't all fast beats and the Midwestern punk sound.
However, where that song hits, I feel like "Keep Falling Down" misses, in that it's a bit more subdued, and seems to drag on too long. It's repetitive, and never seems to break out of the rut that it digs itself into. As much as I love these guys, repeating a chorus for three minutes doesn't work for me. It's interesting that the only other real clunker for me follows it right up. "Terrorist Attack" starts strongly with a scathing indictment of the television and news media, but it never develops. Actually, it just repeats the same few lines for 1:20 and then ends. To be honest, I have no idea why they'd even include that song, as it just seems underdone and like it needs work.
Luckily, the rest of the album is great. "Selfcheckout" is fantastic, and shows that Ryan is trying to trust others and to overcome his personal demons and problems that he's detailed throughout the album. "Fuck This I'm Out" is another solid song, although I really question the bridge riff, as it's almost exactly the same as the lead in "Call The Cops," from one of last year's splits. The rerecording of "For The Four" is crisp, and I really love that song and how it mixes despair with optimism and hope for change. The album ends with the aforementioned "Ten Years Trouble" and apologetic "From the Bottom" which shows one of their best build ups, and an almost Against Me! feel in the cadence of the drums and vocal rhythms. It's a nice change for them, and works well as an album closer.
This is definitely one of my top albums of the year, and I really don't see it falling out of the top five. Despite all the delays and problems with getting this record, it was worth it to finally have a proper full length from these guys. Excellent!