Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

The Fun Police’s folk/funk/reggae/punk/sea shanty/bluegrass tunes are arresting

January 27, 2011

When “Gringo Meringue” is the first song on your album, and it’s literally a joking-yet-talented meringue played by a bunch of white dudes, you know you’re in for something a little bit south of normal. Most times the fun police are the guys stopping everyone from having fun; the band The Fun Police is here to stop people from having bad moods. You have to have fun, or you’re going to jail.

Okay, probably not, because they hate going to jail too. At least, that’s what “Rather Be Dead” espouses; yes, they’d rather the title than be in jail. With a reggae drum beat, a scuzzed-out bass line, a funky wah-wah guitar, a sea-shanty accordion and and a pirate fiddle filling out the tune, the tune screams rebellion from about every possible angle. They even claim to rob an old lady. I’m not kidding.

But of course, this isn’t your regular rebellion. Because even though they appropriate bits of almost everything except metal and industrial music, they combine them all together in unusual and hilarous ways. “Spanish Mullet” es canta en espanol (partially). It’s also a punked-out folk song with a reggae upbeat guitar strum. Again, I’m not kidding.

“We Don’t Want No More” is straight-up reggae, albeit with accordion and fiddle. “Night Beat” starts off with a flute solo and proceeds to mock the theme music from cop procedurals. “Wish I Was Rich” is a harbor town barroom sea shanty stomp tune. “eBay” is a folk-rock song, but it’s about … I don’t even really need to say it.

The only reason all these shenanigans are tolerable is that The Fun Police are ridiculously good at what they do. They are talented musicians, excellent songwriters (you’ll be singing these songs for a long time) and enthusiastic salesmen. I bet they absolutely destroy the place live, too. The music already sounds like a cross between The Felice Brother’s humorous take on folk, Flogging Molly’s sea shanty punk rock and a reggae traditionalist band; I can only imagine they would be a mix of all those things live.

You Better Run is easily the funniest album I’ve heard so far this year, and it’s one of the most entertaining as well. The members of The Fun Police have a firm grasp on their shtick, and they’re wringing every last drop out of it. Cheers to that. And I’m not kidding.

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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