Title: Good Luck Everybody
Label: AJJ Unlimited
Genre: Folk / Punk
Released: 17 January 2020
GOOD LUCK EVERYBODY
"And now I don't suffer
Anymore bullshit gladly
Even though everything's bullshit now
Here in 2019
And you can bet it's gonna be a bunch of bullshit too
Out in sweet 2020
Or whenever this album's released"
AJJ (Formerly known as Andrew Jackson Jihad)’s latest full length album, “Good Luck Everybody” was one of the earliest releases of the new decade and is an extremely grim perspective of the current state of the world, both socially and politically. The album cover alone is a fairly accurate metaphorical representation of this; two silhouetted figures gazing at an oncoming tsunami engulfed in flames and a raging storm. It’s hardly subtle, but neither is the album itself. This is by far the most politically charged work the band has put out so far. But unfortunately it manages to miss the mark by sacrificing a lot of the charm and wit of AJJ’s previous work for something that doesn’t properly or thoroughly address the subject matter it’s attempting to handle. The subject matter, of course, being the state of America under the Trump administration.
First off, I believe that people who say politics should stay out of music are absolutely ridiculous. Music is and always has been used as a necessary platform for freedom of speech and protest. But here AJJ is using that platform to express some of the superficial perspectives on the topic, when there was clearly potential to create some profound political arguments. Songs such as ‘Mega Guillotine 2020’ and ‘Psychic Warfare’ basically resort to name-calling and schoolyard insults; basing entire songs around what would instead have been one-liners in a better album. These tracks in particular represent some really low points on the record, and although they’re mildly entertaining at first, they really outstay their welcome once you realise that they’re each essentially a one-joke song stretched out for two minutes.
The name of the album itself is a darkly sarcastic statement that is repeated several times throughout, introduced in the second track, ‘Normalization Blues’, in which lead singer Sean Bonnette talks about his growing disillusionment with the world around him. It’s here that the album introduces its core themes, however it is also pretty much “Good Luck Everybody”’s peak in quality. This is one of the strongest and most thorough tracks on the album, and although a lot of what comes after it isn’t terribly great, ‘Normalization Blues’ does kick off the record fairly well.
Everything after this point is pretty unmemorable, lacking any of the tight, punchy writing of AJJ’s older work. And as said before, when it attempts to tackle political topics it completely misses the mark by being so overly superficial.
“Mega Guillotine, we love you
Mega Guillotine, we're voting for you
We're praying for you every day”
An exception to this however is ‘No Justice, No Peace, No Hope’, which describes Bonnette’s utter despondence towards America’s future. It’s a heart-breaking listen, and thankfully manages to break away from the surface-level perspective of a lot of the album, to deliver a far more devastating and genuine sounding track. It’s just a shame that the rest of the album doesn’t manage to strike the same chord.
The actual musical content on the album, on the whole, is decent. It’s a step-up from the messier sound of the band’s last album “The Bible 2”, but it isn’t anywhere near as dynamic as a lot of their earlier work such as on “Can’t Maintain” or “Knife Man”. There aren’t any moments that really stick out as sounding particularly poor, but there really isn’t anything particularly great either, which is disappointing from a band who really has ability.
The final track on the album, ‘A Big Day for Grimley’ is actually my favourite, and the only one I have found myself returning to at all since I first heard it back in January. It’s a surprisingly hopeful ending to the album, concluding on a toast to wellbeing in the difficult times to come. However, in the context of the rest of “Good Luck Everybody”, this is more of an uncertain and unattainable vision of the future rather than a genuinely optimistic conclusion to the album. Once again, the name of the album returns for its final lines, sounding far more sincere than before, but every bit as unsettling.
“Solitude for the stoic (Solitude for the stoic)
Mirth for the merry (Mirth for the merry)
A quiet room for the overwhelmed (A quiet room for the overwhelmed)
Arcades for the ADHD (Arcades for the ADHD)
Health for the sickly (Health for the sickly)
A big day for Grimley (A big day for Grimley)
Good luck everybody (Good luck everybody)
Good luck everybody (Good luck everybody)”
Unfortunately, “Good Luck Everybody” is a really disappointing listen, and is so far removed from the lyrical wit and edge that AJJ used to deliver in their earlier music. I feel like the sentiment of what Bonnette and Gallatty are trying to express is there, but the album very rarely manages to capture any of it, with songs being either unmemorable or childishly overt. AJJ have the potential to deliver great music and they had an excellent streak of albums in their early career. But whether or not they can live up to any of that is still yet to be seen, and “Good Luck Everybody” isn’t giving me much hope that may happen.
I'm gonna kill you with my mind”
Reviewed by Layton Bryce - 06/07/20