welcome back to the Skaject folks! today we’re taking a look at the only full album released by Operation Ivy: 1989’s Energy. after this record, the band would decide to part ways, with the album’s release party being their last public show. let’s check out what they got!

i’m familiar with Knowledge from my time with Green Day’s discography, as the fellow Gilman Street regulars covered it on Slappy. the original is extremely good too, with a kind of rawness to the vocal delivery that heightens the sense of desperation. Sound System opens with some really neat guitar interplay before the vocal hook breaks in. this song’s a lot smoother, a lot ska-er, haha. really good vibes on this one. Jaded is a fine track – def not one i really dig but it’s got a good sound. Take Warning leads heavier into the slower, syncopated rhythms. i don’t think i was super into this version of the sound, but it has a charm to it that sticks with you. an interesting note is that it’s a reference to the Specials, and a line from It’s Up to You from The Specials. The Crowd extends some of that discussion about the music scene directly into the show environment – real good track. Bombshell wasn’t super notable to me until the very short guitar solo and the bridge, which really bring the track together, haha. Unity might be Operation Ivy’s biggest song, and one i definitely haven’t escaped the reach of. really strong track – shifting between the mellower guitar struts on the verses to the more anthemic choruses, this song is an earned classic. Vulnerability is an interesting song musing on, allegedly, an incident where they saw a drunk driver hit and kill a bystander outside of a show. Bankshot is a mostly instrumental song that has a lot of surf rock influences, and yo i’m really into this song. this kicks ass. closing out what was originally the end of side one of the vinyl release is a cover of One of These Days, written by Lee Hazlewood and originally performed by Nancy Sinatra. honestly this is one of those covers where the context of the cover is so dramatically different that the song feels very, very alien. a very fun cover. Gonna Find You’s aight. “Success is obedience in a structured way of life” is an extremely strong line for a song that opens with a bit about cutting school, but yknow school is the start of that carceral state, so, yknow. they at least have a good view of the runway. extremely funny that Bad Town was written about a show in LA. imagine your city putting on such a bad show that the band memorializes how bad it makes the place look. Smiling is another track that really kicks ass, attacking masculine expectations with a really really good track. Caution’s p good – a nice, energetic track. Freeze Up’s another banger about impending economic disasters and the way cultural infighting keeps folks from handling it, and a lot of this feels vindicated in the 30+ years since. really strong song. Artificial Life has a phenomenal bass line to it – this is exactly the type of track that bands like Less Than Jake would draw inspiration from, haha. very strong track about the state of the music industry around them, and the plasticity of the subject matter. Room Without a Window’s p good too. Big City’s hook is musically pretty strong, and i can absolutely understand it’s perspective in mid 1980’s San Fransisco, but i’m not the biggest fan of the track. Missionary’s a pretty unambiguous track about the zeal and violence of religious missionaries. fairly strong track, and pretty good way to wrap things up, all things considered.

faves – Knowledge, Sound System, Take Warning, Unity, Bankshot, Smiling, Freeze Up, Artificial Life
dislikes –

it was really funny that this lined up to be reviewed the same week as Tiny Songs Volume 1, given that this record is also a collection of shorter tracks, with Take Warning only approaching but not hitting 3 minutes and nothing else coming close. funny how that works out.

the rapid, frantic nature of this record made it a bit difficult to connect with at first – they spend the 36 minutes of this album going on a pretty breakneck pace through a ton of topics, from the music scene and the greater industry, to reaching maturity in a late capitalist society that demands conformity and obedience, to a rapidly declining cultural situation that rewards division. there’s some really strong anthemic tracks, like Unity, but there’s also a lot of more personal and more individualized songs here too. i can absolutely see how a record like this would provide a lot of inspiration and motivation to other bands the way this record did, and i had a really good time with it. it’s one of those records that i’m excited to spend some time mulling over and return to.

Energy – 9/10

next week, we’re gonna check out the first release by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Devil’s Night Out

previous: Truth and Soul | next: Devil’s Night Out

previous Operation Ivy release: Hectic | this is the final Op Ivy release

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