Jello Biafra is a man who’s never really happy unless he’s plenty pissed off. His unquenchable ire is, at best, only temporarily sated when he’s sardonically stabbing away at politics run afoul, corporate greed, or any number of society’s moving targets.
His iconic days fronting the Dead Kennedys might be long behind him, but Biafra’s found a suitably vicious surrogate act in the Guantanamo School of Medicine, the latest musical vessel for his hilarious and frighteningly pointed social skewering. The band’s latest, White People and the Damage Done, is a maddening blast of surf-coated punk aggression, and if possible, it’s even more inflammatory than it sounds. In other words, it’s Biafra staying true to adolescent, volatile form.
The singer’s trademark irreverence is spread evenly across the record’s surface, dripping from savagely pointed song titles such as “Werewolves of Wall Street” and “Hollywood Goof Disease” in sinewy slabs. Musically and lyrically, the record is as raucously sour as they come. “Road Rage” finds Biafra and his merry punk pranksters scowling over their hatred for their wives, kids, jobs, phone bills, and just about everything else, all set to a three-chord sonic shit-fit that will no doubt bring a smile to Dead Kennedy fans young and old. But the singer’s anger would just be that without his hallmark wobbled falsetto and biting humor, and White People doesn’t go without. “Crapture” slings mud in the face of God-fearing fanatics waiting for the end of the world, while “Shock-U-Py” gives the misguided Occupy movement a kick in the ass (“We will occupy / We will Shock-U-Py / And we won’t back down!”).
White People might not raise itself to the scathing heights of Biafra’s punk rock heyday, but it proves that punk’s most prized court jester still hasn’t washed the bitter taste from his mouth.
Essential Tracks: “Werewolves of Wall Street”, “Crapture”, “Road Rage”