You can really tell the resurgence of older punk bands is in full swing now. There’s always still a market for the genuinely game-changing acts like Rancid and NOFX, particularly when they release decent music as their last respective outputs have been, but that seems to have spurred on the floodgates to the point where every middle-aged punk is looking to re-establish themselves in the growing market. So here’s No Fun At All, the Swedish punks who’ve been around since the early ‘90s, but never made even nearly the same splash as their stateside counterparts did. Still, a couple of short hiatuses aside, they’ve been putting in the hours to their craft, and although not the most prolific of bands (their last album Low Rider was released in 2008, after all), it’s impressive that they’ve managed to weather being swallowed up by so many more prominent bands.
And for a suitable reference point for exactly where No Fun At All fall on the musical map, look no further than fellow Swedish punks Millencolin, mostly because the two sound almost identical in terms of a chunkier, fast-paced take on a familiar skate-punk formula. But even though No Fun At All predate Millencolin, they’ve managed to fall behind in terms of what they can actually do with the sound, and while Grit isn’t the most geriatric punk album to ever be released, it’s still pretty basic and a bit slight for what is supposed to be a momentous comeback album. For all the inevitable comparisons it’ll receive to Millencolin’s last effort, 2015’s True Brew, there was still plenty of firepower in that album; No Fun At All, on the other had, are clearly playing for second best, and even then, they can just about hit it.
The main issue here is just how interchangeable everything comes across, both among other bands and individual tracks on this album. Grit is an album of the most no-frills punk imaginable, and thus, within clattering drums and running guitars that permeate every track, there’s not a great deal that actually stands out here. Runner’s High and Sucker (For A Plan) do purely from being slightly more melodic and having a more even keel, but the flurry of indistinguishable pace that rarely lets up makes it difficult to really get to grips with. It’s got life, sure, and it’s refreshing to see an older punk band actually pushing themselves to shore up against younger competition, but the near-constant barrage feels like an overcompensation that isn’t needed, particularly when, fundamentally, there isn’t a lot that’s wrong here. They’re not exactly distinct, but songs like Spirit and Simple are melodic and punchy enough to be enjoyed regardless. The same could be said for Grit as a whole if the modulation wasn’t nonexistent and if there was even a little individual character to these tracks to separate them from each other.
That might sound harsh, but Grit comes across as a band sidling into the modern day and hoping to get some recognition because everyone else is. As a fairly standard punk album, you could do worse, but No Fun At All managento show exactly the reason why they’ve never been given that much attention. There’s really nothing to separate this album from others in its same mid- to lower-tier bracket, and the only way it can be recommended over the hundreds of other albums doing this sort of thing with a more unique personality, is when all of those ones have been completely exhausted.
For fans of: Millencolin, Bad Religion, Lagwagon
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Grit’ by No Fun At All is released on 13th April on Bird Attack Records.