The Damage Done
With so many ’80s punk legends reuniting this year, it’s sometimes hard to remember that Jello Biafra has been trying to fit into modern day punk standards with his project Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine, though not that successfully. With this latest release, White People and the Damage Done, Jello Biafra is clearly trying to stay relevant with over the top circus-y vocals and watered down political ideology that is only faintly reminiscent of his punk past, but it ends up sounding like a parody of itself that is unlikely to appeal to any Dead Kennedys or punk fans at all.
With lyrics about as radical as the average Facebook status and dressed-up phony aggression, one has to wonder if anyone even cares what Jello has to say these days. With so many cliché tracks, White People and the Damage Done plays like a misguided “oh-so-political” cookie cutter punk record. The record opens with “John Dillinger,” the point of which seems to be to say the name of a criminal over and over again, and is followed up with cheesy, poorly constructed songs like the slightly Islamophobic-feeling “Mid-East Peace Process,” and the completely unnecessary 10 minute long “Shock-U-Py!”. The cherry on this cheesy, over the top, very un-punk sundae, though, is the four remixes that finish off the record, which just feel self indulgent and completely pointless.
In the end, the best way to describe White People and the Damage Done would be relentlessly annoying and entirely unnecessary. Granted, much of punk is intended to be abrasive and unenjoyable to “squarer” listeners, but it’s hard to imagine who would enjoy this record. It’s always sad when a once talented and influential musician has reached his expiration date but, in the case of Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine, it’s time to put down the microphone.