90s skate punk nostalgia can be a mixed bag. With a lot of today’s bands sounding like NUFAN c-sides or crappy high school bands, you sometimes wonder if there is any room for growth left in skatepunk. Nerdlinger pull it off on there new album ‘Happy Place’, capturing the golden age of Fatwreck without all the tedium typically attributed to throwbacks of the era.
Happy Place kicks off with a 30 second melodic ripper that sounds like a lost track off of Short Music for Short people, before launching into the furious speed punk of ‘Contagious’. On the third track they finally cross the 2 minute mark, with a could be single ‘Can Yu Forgive Me?’. If I had to describe Nerdlinger’s sound in a sentence, I’d go with 90s Less Than Jake minus the horn section, and this song really shows it. Their riffs have the same catchy quality, with just the right amount of lyrical vulnerability, and vocals that sound spookily like Chris DeMakes on Hello Rockview. They follow it up with ‘The Ballad if Rod Lighting’, ‘Sails’, and ‘Underrated’ all of which would be huge hits in 1994.
Nerdlinger know when to cut the chord before a song gets too drawn out and boring, they also know how to surprise you with a few curveballs. London Calling this is not, but you will find Waltz sections, girl/boy call and response vocals, and violin parts hiding in their skatepunk riffage. None of it feels forced or academic, it’s all fun and natural. Deep into Happy Place’s 14 tracks you won’t find the band running out of steam, with a seemingly endless supply of catchy riffs and sing-a-long choruses. They end the album with a more somber and serious song, ‘Superficial’, reminiscent of Tony Sly or Osker.
With a Simpsons’s reference as their bandname, you can expect humour and self deprecation to be scattered throughout their lyrics and song titles. But they never take it to the point of being a joke band, grounding their shenanigans in meaningful songwriting and tasty riffs. It’s a fun record with just enough variety to keep it fresh.
Happy Place is out on Pee Records (teehee) with international distribution handled by Thousand Island Records (US/Canada) and Disconnect Disconnect Records (UK). Catch them on their upcoming first US tour at your local dive bar.
Stream it here: