Worth the wait
Since the band’s formation in 1980, Naked Raygun has made a name for themselves as one of the notable groups in the Chicago punk scene. Not only have they developed a cult following in Chicago and across the U.S., but they also are cited as influences for artists like Fall Out Boy, blink-182 and the legendary Nirvana and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl—who frequently discussed seeing Naked Raygun as his first concert in 1982 (when he was 13). Now, after 31 years and multiple reunions, the band has finally released their latest album, Over the Overlords. Quite a lot has changed in the time since the album’s release, but that doesn’t stop the group from delivering powerful, head-banging tracks that a new generation of fans will love.
The album starts with an instrumental introduction, with a crescendo of intricate bass riffs and drum solos that leads into the energetic, in-your-face track, “Go the Spoils.” Combined with a catchy guitar riff and danceable drum beats, lead singer Jeff Pezzati’s voice is able to shine through the layering of vocals throughout the track, showing off his range and setting a standard for the rest of the album that leaves people eager for more. The next track, “Living in the Good Times,”—which also happens to be the album’s lead single—continues on the trend by providing a back-to-basics form of instrumentals that are simple but easy to get stuck in your head. With lyrics like, “Gonna fight while I’m going down/ Blow the top right off this town/ And wake up to a brand new day,” Pezzati’s dynamic highs and booming lows add a touch of pizazz to a feel-good song about wanting to make a change for the better—a message that is certainly needed in these unpredictable times.
Even the most legendary albums have their faults, and Over the Overlords is not exempt from this. Some songs, like “Soul Hole Baby” and “Superheroes” have moments that are questionable at best. In “Soul Hole Baby,” Pezzati chooses to use a half-singing, half-talking approach that emphasizes the strain in his voice and makes it feel out of place from the rest of the song’s elements. While in “Superheroes,” Pezzati’s voice sounds tired and one-note, making what should have been an upbeat love song into a drag.
Despite these setbacks, characteristics from other songs on the record make up for what was missing. One of the later tracks, “Amishes,” is a stellar example of what makes Over the Overlords stand out from their previous work. Though it starts off as a generic, cookie-cutter pop-punk song, an epic bridge with a building crescendo of drums and lyrics like, “Stand by my side/ Grab my hand/ Jump with me” adds emotion and bravado, linking together a puzzle piece that was missing from a seemingly ordinary song.
Admittedly, 31 years is a long time in between album releases for a band; it is safe to say that with all that Naked Raygun has to offer within Over the Overlords, the wait was worth it.