Review: Skandalism ‘Loud Music is a Gateway Drug to Failure’ (2017)

Loud Music is a Gateway Drug to Failure
Slang Church (2017)
Sounds like: good, wholesome ska punk to kick someone’s ass and/or make out to

Score: 8/10

Nearly five years after their first release (though it felt like much, much longer), Bay Area ska punks Skandalism finally released their sophomore album, Loud Music is a Gateway Drug to Failure, on March 25th of this year. Of course, their record release show was at the iconic Berkeley venue, 924 Gilman, AKA punk rock Mecca- and if you were lucky enough to go… well, I am envious as hell of you. Thankfully, the Internet is way bigger than it was at 924 Gilman’s conception, and you can easily snag yourself a copy of Loud Music is a Gateway Drug to Failure online. Which you should definitely do, considering that it’s free. Or you could be like me and flake on your friends’ dinner plans so you can drop 15 bucks on it on Bandcamp.

It’s definitely worth it. Except, perhaps, for what is my biggest gripe with this record: it’s so goddamn short. Which is why I gave it an 8 as opposed to a 9 or even a 9.5. At a meager seven songs, it has less than half of the number of songs as its predecessor, No Shirt, No Shoes, No Friends. I mean, come on, guys. You made us wait almost five years for seven songs? At least we got the 2014 single “Cheek Swab,” but I couldn’t help but feel a bit cheated after seeing this record’s tracklist.

At least the seven songs that do exist are pretty prime. And while this record is classic Skandalism (is it possible for there to even be “classic Skandalism” when this is only their second album?), the four-and-a-half year gap between its release and that of the band’s first album is evident. It’s cliche as all hell, but the amount of musical and emotional growth that Skandalism’s members have undergone since their last record is obvious. Their sound is still energetic and fun, but since 2012 has gotten tighter and more cohesive. In all honesty, I could easily write a paragraph about each member’s improvement between No Shirt, No Shoes, No Friends and Loud Music is a Gateway Drug to Failure– which is not to say that their first album is terrible; it’s actually one of my go-to drunk records (yelling along to “SW” with three other girls is a rad time, 10/10 would recommend).

Speaking of recommendations: if I were a part of Slang Church and was sending out copies of Loud Music is a Gateway Drug to Failure to college radio station DJs, my recommended tracks would be “Stitches (For You)” and “Feelin’ Good, Nice!” The fifth track, “Stitches For You,” is one of the most cheerful-sounding threats you’ll ever hear. Send it to someone the next time you wanna pick a fight (Punks in Vegas is not liable for any injuries that may come from this). In “Feelin’ Good, Nice!” on the other hand, the hate is directed inwardly. The song is about not feelin’ good; rather, it centers around the feelings of resignation and giving up that come with pushing people away because you’re so busy being consumed by your own bullshit. At least that’s what I got from it- either way, it’s a good song to play when you’re feeling a lil emo but still wanna be a ska punk.

If had my way, I’d demand everyone listen to the entirety of Loud Music is a Gateway Drug to Failure from front to back. It starts out strong with “You & Me,” an upbeat, somewhat snarky tune- though, to be honest, “upbeat” and “somewhat snarky” describe Skandalism’s overall sound pretty well. The transitions from the fourth to the fifth to the sixth track are so smooth and perfect, it would be a crime to play those songs out of order. The last track, “Fish 2 Fry,” is soft and somewhat somber, which is new for Skandalism, but certainly nothing to be discounted, especially if you’re like me and love when albums end on sadder, more delicate notes. I’ve gotta say, though: fingers crossed that the album title isn’t actually true, because I’ve been blasting this record an embarrassingly large amount of times since March.

-Jazmin Boulton

About the author  ⁄ Jazmin Boulton

Just a broke college kid with an affinity for ska/punk and writing. @alaSKApunk

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