I don’t know about you guys but I feel like I’m suffering a little bit of “band that used to be great and then either disappeared or had a huge change in style coming back with a back to basics” fatigue. Bands like Millencolin, Face To Face, Guttermouth, Belvedere and so many others have gone through this process, and don’t get me wrong I love hearing bands that I used to like coming out with modern albums that sound just like their older albums, but after a while I find I can only muster so much enthusiasm for what is going to essentially be the same 5-800 words.
The band in question today is Frenzal Rhomb. I haven’t have much to do with the Rhombers since their 2000 blaster Shut Your Mouth and I was pretty happy to see a new album land in my lap after nothing of note other than a best of record in recent years. It’s great to see the group still on Fat Wreck which is where they’ve had most of their success as a band. Hi Vis High Tea is 20 tracks of the usual fast paced punky goodness you’d expect from anything put out on Fat. Nothing much here sees a 2 in the minute column and the album is full of the Australian's trademark irreverence and humour.
I feel a younger me would enjoy this album much more than the man sitting here listening right now. The humour is front and centre but the jokes on the whole fall a little flat. Notable exceptions for me were School Reunion and Pigworm which did get a rise out of me but not much else did.
I feel as I’m typing that I’m being pretty mean to this album and that it sounds like I didn’t enjoy it and that really is the wrong end of the stick. Hi Vis High Tea is great fun to listen to, and it really is good to hear more new music from Frenzel Rhomb after such a long time, but as I mentioned up top this is a story well trodden in recent years. If you’re asking me whether this album holds up against other 90s melodic skate punk bands that have released an album in the last year I’d say “yeah sure, like top fifteen for sure”. That’s not damning criticism but neither is it the glowing praise I’ve been able to heap upon other albums of the “back to their roots with this one” subgenre of punk that has been emerging. Also I would say there are new bands doing incredible things these days that your £10 might be better off going to if you can only afford one new album this month.
In conclusion Hi Vis High Tea is a good fun, high energy, amusing fast skate punk album that just didn’t quite push my buttons the way I really hoped it would. I’d be sad about this not being the burning ear pleaser I wanted from them but I’m going to be too busy listening to Authority Zero to let it bother me too much.
Stream and download Hi-Vis High Tea here: https://frenzalrhomb.bandcamp.com/album/hi-vis-high-tea
Like Frenzal Rhomb here: https://www.facebook.com/FrenzalRhomb/
This review was written by Dan Peters.