Review by Matt Schild
It’s either a testament to the biodiversity in the punk ecosystem or a measure of how badly punk’s spun out of control when a mere four days after Green Day drops its latest eyeliner-encrusted rock opera on the world that Flipper releases a new studio album. There’s a line scrawled in the sand. Pick your side: Appearances on Good Morning America or in smelly rock clubs. Anthems made to blare from radios or anthems made to peel paint off the walls. Rebellion as a catch phrase held over from the Bush II era or rebellion as a catch phrase held over from the Reagan era.
Flipper might not be the freshest punk act on the planet (really, though neither is Green Day), but the San Francisco noise freaks haven’t lost much of their early cachet. Sure, there’s nothing to rival the band’s 1982 noise-punk masterwork, “Sex Bomb” anywhere near Love, but Flipper’s still nearly as overworked, over-amplified and over-exaggerated as it was when the band was young.
With former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic holding down the low end, Flipper swims through a dirty sea of grimy noise. Novoselic’s bass lords over the mix, with Ted Falconi’s guitar’s low ends bleed into it as the foursome riles up listeners. You’ll either immediately fall in love with Love or you’ll be alienated and hate it forever. That’s just how all punk rock used to be, remember?
Garage noise and hardcore abandon make Love a testament to old-school punk confrontation. “Be Good, Child” comes out of the gate, with a bass line that rumbles and pummels with equal measure as frontman Bruce Loose barks with the insistence of a smoker with a pack-a-day habit asking — more like demanding — to bum a smoke. Falconi’s guitar attacks Novoselic’s concrete-crumbling bass line like an angle-grinder on “Triple Mass.” “Why Can’t You See” jumps head-first into that empty swimming pool of full-on noise-punk, breaking every bone in its body in a wild-eyed jaunt through punk’s seamiest moments.
If mainstream punk faces a destiny where repeated spit-polishing rubs it clean away, the murky underground world will be there with our helping of noise, grime and sleaze. Love is punk rock at its worst, which, really is when it’s at its best.
Reviewed by Mike Wood
It really isn’t until the fourth track on “Love,” Flipper’s first set of original material since 1993, that you can exhale and believe. “Live Real” kicks in with the somber, hypnotic bass line, the scraping guitar, and the sarcastic ranting of Bruce Loose, announcing that Flipper has lost none of its rage nor humor.
It is dicey at first. The first three tracks, while decent, seem awkward. They are a mix of metal, Nirvana and old sentiments that ring a bit hollow. The titles alone-“Be Good, Child,” “Learn To Live” and “Only One Answer” sum up the lyrics and the stilted feel. What then gloriously ensues, however, are seven blistering, indelible songs that could only be the work of Flipper. Even without the late, great Will Shatter, Flipper immediately catches up with the times and their own legacy.
The most Flipper-esque tunes, “Why Can’t You See” and “Old Graves,” put the band’s newest member to work. Bassist Krist Novacelic has big sonic shoes to fill, but fill them he does, providing the murky, sludgy beat to all the songs, but especially giving these two tracks a classic feel. He teams nicely with the guitar of Ted Falconi, who remains ever adept at sawing through a melody. “Transparent Blame” and “Love Fight” are also immense, with Loose’s vocals as confrontational and insightful as ever.
Flipper were among the few bands that made your hair stand on end just by warming up. “Love” is not only a reminder of that (as is the killer live companion release, also on MVD, “Fight”) but stands on its own as in real time as a release by a band still vital, still fearless.