REVIEW >> Descendents – Hypercaffium Spazzinate

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It’s been 12 years since California punk pioneers DESCENDENTS put out any fresh music. But as old school fans of the band will attest, more than a decade’s wait for the four-piece to drop some new tuneage is par of the course.


Picture by Kevin Scanlon

For a band that is fast approaching their 40th anniversary, their output could seem a little, well, lackadaisical. Hypercaffium Spazzinate will be Descendents’ seventh album. Do the maths.

But, as so brilliantly – and poignantly – revealed in the 2014 documentary Filmage, their on-off existence has seen dramatic twists that would befit the best of soap operas.

From the swift rotation of band members to lead singer Milo Aukerman quitting the rock n roll lifestyle for one of biochemistry for a (long) while, only switching his lab coat for a microphone every now and again, to drummer and founding member Bill Stephenson’s death-defying health issues, it’s a wonder they’re still here to drop Hypercaffium Spazzinate.

To call this album a return to form would be slightly misleading – the band have never really dropped a dud since their debut album Milo Goes To College in 1982. Instead, we’re treated to a timeless piece of pop punk glory – eternal youth masking the band members’ greying hair (for those who still have hair).

It’s a full-throttle coffee-fuelled hit of skewed, sugar-coated melodies, bassline gymnastics, and hyperactive percussion, tearing through 16 tracks in just over 30 minutes – a formula which created pop-punk anthems such as Hope, Silly Girl and Coolidge.

In 1985, Descendents decried adulthood with their second album, I Don’t Want To Grow Up. But with Hypercaffium Spazzinate, the band have faced up to their maturity with a powerful dose of nostalgia – “Keep me alive!” sings Milo on Full Circle – a brash, bold hark back to the glory days of punk rock.

And riffing on their classic speedy shade-throwing No FB and the even speedier ode to fast food and fast living I Like Food, a more sagacious Milo spits: “Can’t have no more juicy burgers. Can’t have no more greasy fries,” on the sub-one-minute blast of cholesterol-damning No Fat Burger.

Those health concerns crop up again in Comeback Kid, a hook-laden high five from Milo to old pal Bill for surviving a brain tumour and pulmonary embolism: “Comeback Kid, it’s exciting you want to live, what’s inside of your broken lid? We all want you to win. I really want you to win.”

The camaraderie continues with album closer Beyond The Music – a celebration and affirmation of the band’s decade-spanning bond.

Hypercaffium Spazzinate is out on Friday, July 29 on Epitaph. Descendents are playing at Rebellion Festival in Blackpool next Thursday, August 4. Tickets can still be bought HERE.

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