by Scott Hefflon
As far as this opinionated writer is concerned, whenever the phrase “pop punk” is used, what the writer actually means is “They sound kinda like Descendents/ALL.” Different people have different points of reference from which they base their experiences. For me, Descendents started pop punk. Milo was God. ALL continued it. The three singers have their own identities. You’re welcome to choose your fave; I like Dave Smalley. Now on their eighth release as ALL, I realize I missed Breaking Things. That was the last release on SST and the first with singer Chad Price. Pummel is the first release on Interscope. The second with Chad, and the first ALL release that I’ve liked from end to end since Dave Smalley split. (Some people thought Scott Reynolds was The Man, but I personally didn’t dig all the “diverse influences.”) For a more detailed history lesson, write to Interscope for their kick-ass poster, “All ‘n the Family: The All Family Shrub.”
In 35 jam-packed minutes, Chad Price brings the original humor and punk snarl back into the formula. The loony little Allroy dude that was always lurking somewhere on the cover seems to have been replaced by a monster truck, arty graphic design, and a picture of somebody’s cat. That does not in any way mean that ALL have lost their diabolical character and become pussies. Far from it. This album is hard. Surprisingly fucking excessive in the fucking usage of certain words, it’s not offensive or gratuitous, just noticeable. The first track, “Self-Righteous,” wastes no time in setting the stage. A minute and a half of catchy, melody-filled guitar jammed in every available crannie, and Chad’s hoarse vocals that can pronounce the phrases “love you” and “pissed off” and mean each with every fiber of his being. The tracks range from the melodic to the straight out, punk-as-fuck anthems like “Uncle Critic,” the 50 second “Button It,” and the amazing “Gettin’ There.” Simple, quick, pissed, and totally right-on. ALL is back.