I am a child of the 1990’s. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Pogs, grunge, AOL, Michael Jordan–I loved it all. And the nineties was definitely when I first discovered music. No shame in rocking Vanilla Ice, Hammer, Hootie and the Blowfish’s Cracked Rear View was my first real CD (I rocked cassettes until then). But somewhere along the way the decade that brought us Monica Lewinsky and South Park, became a kitschy joke for the I Love the (insert decade) VH1 series filled with fake nostalgia. Hey everyone, I get it. You watch Saved by the Bell. You’re awesome.
Anyways, when I heard that Four Year Strong would be releasing an album of nineties cover songs I was intrigued but scared. After one listen and a glimpse of the track list, my fears easily turned into delight. You see, unlike the shitty and pretentious Punk Goes 90s comp, that’s filled with scene bands stroking themselves over second-rate b-sides (“Jumper”?) and a few untouchable songs (“Hey Jealousy” and “Under the Bridge”), Four Year Strong pick songs that really embody the decade, and rock them out in their own cohesive style. Sugar Ray’s “Fly,” Stroke 9’s “Absolutely (Story of a Girl)” and Third-Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life” all feel fresh and hold up to the heavier arrangements.
Even though …Explains it All doesn’t have every huge song from the nineties on it (do we really need another ‘Teen Spirit’ cover?), it has pop songs that you remember and think…’oh yea, I remember this one and listening to it now make me realize how good the song was in the first place.’ Remember “Roll to Me?” But what I like better than the songs they did choose are the ones they left off–“Spiderwebs” instead of “Just a Girl”, “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” over “Tonight, Tonight” and “So Much For the Afterglow” in place of “Father of Mine.”
This album is far from earth shattering. It’s eleven fun and memorable songs, free of pretension and mocking humor. You can tell the band really likes the source material and had a blast recording songs that influenced them growing up.