I started listening to Big D and the Kids Table with their 2004 release, How It Goes. That album was a monster of a disc, with 20 tracks and a run time of an hour and 16 minutes. So naturally, since it was the first album of theirs I listened to, I hold it in a higher regard than the rest of their output. I didn't think 2007's Strictly Rude was awful, but it didn't have that same staying power for me. And when Fluent in Stroll came out, I, like many, was very taken back by the shift in sound. I didn't mind it too much as background noise for sitting out in the summer sun, but I didn't really care to actually absorb it either.
Now it's 2011 and the band is releasing their newest disc, For the Damned, the Dumb and the Delirious, a supposed "return to form" disc- a term that generally misses more than hits. When the first track, "Modern American Gypsy," was debuted online, I was actually kind of surprised. It didn't exactly sound like something that would have fit on How It Goes, but it certainly wasn't anything at all like the "boom goes the dynamite" lyrics that were all over the opening of Fluent in Stroll. The best way to describe it was as if Big D and the Kids Table was taking a bunch of cues from every band on Hellcat or SideOne Dummy that had been influenced by Operation Ivy. It was enough to keep my interest in this album, to say the least. The final product incorporates much more than just that sound however, and probably for the best. While "Modern American Gypsy" was enough to attract me, I would have been turned off if the entire album sounded like that.
For the Damned, the Dumb and the Delirious opens with "Walls," a high energy track that is a great way to start off the album. It's got the classic 3rd wave ska elements and uses them in the best way possible. It's something you'd want to skank to, and Big D is at their best when they write these kinds of songs. The energy keeps on through the next few tracks (the chorus for "Clothes Off" is cringe worthy, but I can imagine it would still be a fun song to hear live) but I think it's during track 6, "My Buddy's Back" where things start to fall apart. Lyrically, it tells a tale of a friend of the narrator who comes back from the War on Terror. This in itself is a fine subject for a song- many people have been affected by the War and seeing a friend again is always nice. That said, the repeated "wicked, wicked, wicked, wicked, wicked, wicked, wicked, wicked long war" refrain doesn't sit well with me.
Musically, the band shows a lot more punk influence than the last few albums. The aforementioned "Modern American Gypsy" has some resemblance to Operation Ivy, while "Best of Them All" could be a Celtic Punk tune if the horns were replaced by a bagpipe (cue more Hellcat/SideOne Dummy comparisons) and "It's Raining Zombies on Wall Street" is a little more straight forward punk (minus the obligatory ska moment in the middle). "Rotten" and "Set Me Straight" recall the frantic ska-punk moments of How It Goes (in the vein of "You're Lost, You're Crazy" and "You're Me Now").
There are times on the album when Dave McWane sings in a lower, almost mumbling, register which immediately brings Tim Armstrong to mind, showing more of that Operation Ivy/Rancid influence (an influence McWane has been very open about). I just thought that should be noted.
All-in-all, For the Damned, the Dumb and the Delirious is not a full on "return-to-form" album, but it's still a solid output. It may take some time to grow for some people and others are still likely to hate it, although I urge anyone turned off by Fluent in Stroll to give it a shot... you may find yourself surprised.