‘So Far, So Good, So Cool’ is Norwegian rockers Death by Unga Bunga’s fifth album in 10 years, but they’re not showing any signs of slowing down. The past couple of years have seen them release the critically acclaimed ‘Pineapple Pizza’ album play countless shows in various countries and even support Stiff Little Fingers on their 40th anniversary tour in the US.
The album opens with the Cheap Trick-meets-early-Strokes sound of ‘Haunt Me’. With fuzzy guitars and a big chorus, it’s a statement of intent and finds the band’s bravado of sound at odds with the tender lyrics: ‘I’m home alone with the Tivo. Nothing’s on. I miss your company.’; ‘I wish that you would come back just to haunt me’. Following this is ‘Soldier’, a surf pop-infused tale of obsession from the stalker’s side: ‘I know there’s something wrong, when I woke up you were gone. This feels like dying’; ‘You called me creepy on the phone’. Things take a power-pop turn on ‘Cynical’, a song with in-your-face lyrics and huge hooks.
‘So Cool’ has a Ramones punk rock feel as the band write a love letter to someone who is just effortlessly chill. We all know someone like it and have felt that way. From the clothes they wear to how they walk – and even the way they drink soda – this is a song for any outsider who wanted to fit in in their younger years: ‘I didn’t know that you could be so cool’. ‘Turn My Brain Off’ is a mixture of Japandroids-esque punk and Britpop’s more melodic moments that finds time for a guitar solo you’ll be throwing devil’s horns at (you’ll get odd looks if you do this at your desk on lunchtime, trust us) and the classic rock-infused ‘Boys’ has the incredible refrain of ‘cracking open a cold one with the boys’ repeated over and over again.
As the album reaches its final run, things are slowed down a little with ‘I’m No Provider’. This song opens with acoustic strums and has the kind of psychedelic tinge the Super Furries were so adept with on their quieter songs. At first the lyrics appear heartfelt and sincere, but when you listen to them you realise they’re actually quite brutal and the subject is someone you’d want to avoid: Listen to my bigotry, my poetry, no sympathy for you’; ‘Can you feel it in your lonely, lonely heart. I’m no provider’. The final song on the record is (of course) called ‘Bye Bye’ and is a loud and powerful grunge piece about escaping an unhappy relationship – much to the other person’s surprise: ‘When do you plan to grow up? Please just leave me alone. I’m not a stone you can throw around anymore’ ; ‘I think you have the wrong idea. Pack your bags, get out of here. It’s an offer you can’t refuse’.
Despite the dark nature of some of the lyrics, this is a fun album full of rock and roll good times and stomping songs that would psyche up Andrew W.K.. It’s a record that will make you want to crack open a cold one…