NOFX: Coaster 

Coaster is not only the name of the CD, but NOFX's suggestion for its intended use. Their first studio album in three years, NOFX matches clever pop-punk melodies to frontman Fat Mike's tongue-in-cheek lyrics. The end product is an album that shows a band is sharp as ever after 25 years while remaining true to their DIY attitude.

With the end of the George W. Bush era, the growing outrage the band fostered against self-serving Neo-Con politics brims over. Christianity and religion get hit in heretically humorous songs such as ska-influenced "Best God in Show" or "Blasphemy (the Victimless Crime)." "Thank God for the Grammy / thank God for the touchdown / thank God for blowing up the enemy's sacred ground," Fat Mike sings contemptuously. Neither is reckless capitalism safe from scrutiny, with punk ethics putting big business in its place in "Suits and Ladders." Although NOFX have shown support for President Obama, even playing a show at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver in honor of Obama's nomination, they aren't ones to heedlessly hitch on to the hope train. NOFX's consensus of America in the post-W world? "No. 1 America was a slogan used to keep morale up when we knew we were already cooked."

No NOFX album would be complete without tributes to drugs, drinking and debauchery. Their applause of the punk lifestyle is good for some laughs as Fat Mike satirizes himself as a "fat, drunk Jew," in "First Call," a song about keeping the party going after the sun comes up, and in "I Am An Alcoholic," a jazzy number about a life of pot, binge drinking and hydrocodone. Furthermore, "Creeping out Sara," Fat Mike's account of meeting one of the sisters of the lesbian duo Tegan and Sara (he's not entirely sure which one) and the subsequent downward spiral of their conversation is both riotous and inappropriate.

But lest you get the impression the band can't be serious, in "My Orphan Year," Fat Mike chronicles the death of both his parents, his mother from cancer and his father from dementia. Stark in its sincerity, this song offers a glimpse of vulnerability and resentment, adding a new layer of depth to the album.

The dedication NOFX shows to bettering their music can be seen through their versatility in taking on new sounds while still showing they can rock as hard and fast as anyone. It's this approach that has kept NOFX from growing stagnant or dated after so many years. If you're left of center, cynical and ready for a laugh, NOFX won't disappoint. At their rate of progression, NOFX will be playing punk rock for years to come. That is, if the alcoholism doesn't catch up first.

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