Monkeys for Nothin' and the Chimps for Free
It's no secret that Reel Big Fish were less than pleased with their time spent at Jive/Mojo Records, and they made it pretty obvious as to their elation at being finally dropped sometime after 2005's We're Not Happy 'Til You're Not Happy. So maybe that's why their first album back in the indie world, Monkeys for Nothin' and the Chimps for Free, is the band's most lighthearted effort in years. That's not to say their trademark sarcasm, snarkiness, and sharp wit are any less present, since without those bits, it wouldn't really be a Reel Big Fish album. Don't worry, they're there -- see "Hate You," "Why Do All Girls Think They're Fat?," and "The New Version of You" as just a few examples -- but it's kinda nice that the Fish are largely back to simple and superficial mischief, instead of spending the majority of their time bitter at corporate suits and fans who call them sellouts. Reel Big Fish have simply made a fun, catchy as hell album, from the reggae-infused "Slow Down" to the island vibe of "Will the Revolution Come?" to the late-'90s ska-punk of "I'm Her Man." "My Imaginary Friend" has a nice chorus for a sunny-day skip down the street, while overly jovial cuts like the ridiculous "Party Down" and "Everybody's Drunk" clearly reveal the guys just enjoying playing together and having a good time. Listeners will have a hard time not following suit. This is playfulness reminiscent of the Everything Sucks era -- there's even the wonderful "Another F.U. Song" to rival the expletive blast of prior pit anthem "Nothin'" -- and seeing as some of Monkeys' songs are apparently reworked demos dating all the way back to 1999, that might have something to do with it. But reasons don't matter so much as the result, and Monkeys for Nothin' and the Chimps for Free presents a rejuvenated, almost carefree Reel Big Fish completely unaware that their best years should be behind them; after all, ska-punk supposedly died years ago. But Reel Big Fish just keep plowing forward, pumping out the hits like it was the easiest thing in the world, and leaving their fans all the luckier for it.