Aussie beach bum punks Dune Rats have returned with their sophomoric sophomore release, The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit. Behind kicking basslines and killer gang choruses, these guys have brought the sun and celebration of Australian summer to an otherwise cold and dreary January. On this album, singer/guitarist Danny Beusa, drummer BC Michaels and bassist Brett Jansch parade their pop-punk street cred over an energetic 31 minutes of 2-3 minute songs that never wear out their welcome.
After a quick studio noise intro, Jansch busts out a killer bassline on the album’s opener “Don’t Talk” that is highly reminiscent of Harvey Danger‘s masterful “Cream & Bastards Rise.” Michaels’ drums will have you thumping your foot along with the beat, and you’ll find yourself singing the gang vocals on the chorus.
The follow-up track, “6 Pack” is a ballad of underage drinking and overage wistfulness that had me reflecting on my teenage adventures drinking in my friends’ basements. The line “Overage, I wish that I was younger” struck a chord with me, which was probably the theme of the album.
The lion’s share of the songs are about the youthful celebration. Drinking underage, partying way too late, never sleeping, and not caring about whatever anyone else thinks are all topics the Rats cover.
One of the high points of the album is the juxtaposition of “Scott Green”, a song about trying to score drugs at a party and doing whatever you find (It’s an innuendo I was unfamiliar with it, but you’ll get it right away when you hear the delivery of the line “At a party, who’s Scott Green?”) and “Never Gonna Get High”, which reflects on the complexities of the endless cycle of recreational marijuana use.
Actually, let’s take a moment to discuss the role weed plays with the Dune Rats. The Australia-exclusive special edition of this album had several packages that came with (and I shit you not) a custom-printed Dune Rats bong. The band’s self-titled debut opened with the fantastic and fantastical “Dalai Lama, Big Banana, Marijuana” and the band’s “Green Version” video for “Red Light, Green Light” features 2:32 of Danny and BC taking bong rip after bong rip.
Though the majority of the songs on The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit relate to drugs and alcohol, there is a lot of maturity and self-reflection in this album.
Which brings me to the titular track, “Bullshit.” This song was actually my introduction to the band, and it only took the line “Everything you say is bullshit!” to convince me that I had to review the whole album. This track doesn’t break from the driving bass and three-chord fun that rest of the album sells, and that’s what really draws me in. In its stripped-down simplicity, the Dune Rats bring together the joyful chaos I’ve experienced over the last 20 years through The Ramones, Rancid, Blink-182, MxPx, Dead Kennedys, Dead Milkmen, and Dropkick Murphys.
According to the band, “Bullshit” in the context of the track is meant to read as “bullshit [good].” The music is certainly good, and though I may not be as young as I used to be, my inner punk kid knows that it’s bullshit good. But this may not actually be an album that speaks to youth. The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit‘s power lies in music’s unwavering ability to speak to sense memory. This album is a direct thread from my present self, the listener, all the way through my partying college years, and straight to the 12-year-old who first heard “Anarchy in the U.K.” and questioned authority. I can only hope that this album speaks to everyone who hears it, and encourages the Dune Rats to continue to write from a place of introspection.
Best Track: Though I would prefer to keep this album as a whole gestalt work, some tracks are certainly able to stand on their own. Chief among them were the pre-release singles, “Bullshit” and “Scott Green.” I’ve also found “6 Pack” rattling around in my head many times over this past week.
Worst Track: The closest I could come to removing a track from this album is “Counting Sheep”, but that could be thoroughly rooted in fatigue over reviewing songs about insomnia.