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Electric Boogaloo
Artist: Five Iron Frenzy
Label: Five Minute Walk 
Length: 12 tracks/39:51 minutes 

I was almost ready to dismiss Five Iron Frenzy as a "has been," no longer able to make quality music since Ska has faded from the spotlight. Their last record, All the Hype That Money Can Buy, left me much less than impressed with the band's ability to overcome the death of Ska. However, on Electric Boogaloo, the ex-thrash and now ex-Ska band has reinvented their sound and, to a certain degree, their lyrical exploits. Five Iron Frenzy, always good, is now a higher quality ban far surpassing anything they've been in the past. 

The sound of Electric Boogaloo best fits into the broad category of alternative rock, with a punk influence mixed into the new musical style. Of course, the horns are still there and actually sound better than ever before. The songs are very catchy and do a wonderful job of sticking in your mind long after you press the stop button. "Farsighted" and "The Day We Killed" are musical favorites. 

The lyrics on Electric Boogaloo are more thought-provoking and serious than previous efforts. Five Iron Frenzy takes on loneliness ("Spartan"), the persecution of American Indians ("The Day We Killed"), the choking effect of Christian culture ("Juggernaut"), "Christian" rock stars ("Blue Mix"), and death ("Car"), among other things. "Eulogy" provides a perfect conclusion to the album, ending it in a worshipful way: "If Jesus Christ is true/ then I am mostly lies/ if Jesus Christ is Love/ then I have failed to try/ if Jesus Christ is life/ then please just let me die/ let* this* die." 

One hopes that Five Iron Frenzy will continue in the direction that Electric Boogaloo has dawned. The making of catchy and witty intelligent rock music, for those who are dissatisfied with average Christian music. 

Trae Cadenhead 12/9/2001

I've been waiting for this one for over two albums now! While I enjoyed the live Proof That the Youth Are Revolting and FIF's return to the studio with All the Hype That Money Can Buy, something was missing from the last studio project (including heavy cynicism, e.g. "Four-Fifty-One"), and that's the zany trademark quality of Five Iron Frenzy. From the first moments of "Pre-Ex-Girlfriend" from Electric Boogaloo, I was laughing again.

Welcome back, guys (and Lenore "The Girl" Ortega)!

What I've loved about FIF since Upbeats and Beatdowns is what makes Five Iron Frenzy: an uncanny knack for making merry, crazy music that somehow manages to convey the wonderful message of Jesus Christ. One of the latter gems from this band is "Dandelions," from quantity is job 1, and this project's gem is the radio-friendly single, "Far, Far Away," as Reese Roper explains, is inspired by "Come the Day" by the Seekers, the lullaby his mother sang to him when he was a baby. What a breath of fresh air!

With exception of the tone of much of the band's last studio project (which I personally felt was too harsh), FIF has always touched on cynicism but has handled it in a palatable manner, in the form of Christian accountability and responsibility. Two songs which handle this theme are the aforementioned single,  "Blue Mix," and "Vultures." And give a listen to "Eulogy." FIF deals with the harsh reality of life.

What's different here -- and it's a back-to-the-basics quality -- is that FIF undergirds these excellent lyrics with the zany, wild music that's its unique stamp!

Of course, as the O.C. Supertones have done, FIF's music quality is pretty much "rock with horns" now. Ska? What's that? Yes, there's still enough of it to whet the appetite of the ranks of the skanktified. "Plan B" even borders on swing-ska. "Eulogy"'s mix is classic FIF, reminiscent of "Every New Day" or "My Evil Plan to Save the World." Every track on this project is tightly and impeccably recorded and, pardon the pun, with plenty of upbeats and beatdowns.

My only beef is a big one -- a definite detraction -- the length of Electric Boogaloo. It's less than 40 minutes long (and doesn't have a hidden track). The bottom line is this: if you enjoy FIF, Electric Boogaloo is a must-have project, but for the uninitiated, I recommend our newest album ever or quantity is job 1. Nevertheless, Five Iron Frenzy is definitely on the right track with a very solid offering.

Olin Jenkins  January 13, 2002



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