It scares me to think about just how long Less Than Jake has been around. I vaguely remember the name of the band being battered about by all the cool kids in high school way back when in 1995. Sadly, I wasn’t and never have been one of the cool kids and the debut album Pezcore passed me by. As did the second and third albums.
Skip to 2003 and all I can say is thank God for Jilly’s Rockworld (RIP) in Manchester. Jilly’s introduced me to a world of music, bands, wind-milling and mosh-pits that I had never encountered before. Gainesville Rock City and Look What Happened from the 2000 album Boarders and Boundaries were regulars on the playlist and I remember thinking who the hell would dream of putting trumpets in a punk song? Less Than Jake, that’s who. I had to check these guys out.
Skip to 2017 and we have Less Than Jake’s new EP Sound the Alarm which features seven (yes seven!) new songs. Why the band haven’t held off with the release of Sound the Alarm to write a few more songs and then release it as a full album I have no idea. Seven songs is a lot for an EP. The problem with EPs is that most contain songs that are not quite good enough for an album release and are used as a tool to raise awareness of the band or artist, reminding the fans that they are still around. Less Than Jake clearly don’t want to disappoint and what we’re treated to over the course of the EP are seven delicious treats of everything that Less Than Jake are great at. Fast tempo, ska rifts, slapping bass and joyous brass!
Opening track Call to Arms is probably the weakest song on the EP. That’s not to say that the song isn’t great, but when compared to other tracks Bomb Drop and Good Sign it doesn’t grab your attention in the same way.
Whatever the Weather and Welcome to My Life bring down the tempo slightly and break up the EP really well. On some previous EPs/Albums by the band, the track orders almost feel like an assault on the senses after the third song. The band may have made a conscious effort to rectify this or not but either way it strengthens the enjoyment of the EP.
Again, keeping with a slower tempo Years of Living Dangerously opens with an absolute mesmerising guitar riff and is the standout track on the EP.
The EP ends with Things Change and acts as a good closing track. On reflection things do change but thankfully Less Than Jake hasn’t changed too much. The band has evolved musically since their debut album but not to the extent that they are unrecognisable from all those years ago. Instead of becoming stagnant it’s clear they are still pushing themselves to write fun and enjoyable songs despite all the band members being in their early forties. For Less Than Jake, this has never been more evident than when listening to Sound the Alarm, an EP with seven fun songs full of brass!