EP Review: Less Than Jake - Sound The Alarm

Words by Maddy Howell

Now 25-years into their career, ska-punk pioneers Less Than Jake have had a quarter of a century to hone their craft into something worth paying attention to. Whilst 2003 album 'Anthem' brought them to commercial success, the group have since fallen short of providing anything up to scratch, with most releases sounding near enough identical, give or take a trombone or two.

As their Pure Noise Records debut, 'Sound the Alarm' marks the end of 4 years passing time with a plethora of “best of” compilations and live releases, serving as their first original music since 2013 full-length 'See the Light'. The band have always stated a preference for EP releases and with this as their 9th, surely they should be good at it by now?

Call To Arms starts of proceedings with a gritty punk riff before distinctive vocals kick into a disappointingly anticlimactic fast-paced track. Nothing about it is inherently bad, but why listen when 'Anthem' provides the same concept executed one-hundred times better?

Ska isn’t exactly renowned for its creativity, but surely in a career spanning 25 years Less Than Jake could write a song that’s at least slightly intriguing. Bomb Drop is almost farcical, with the excessive presence of the pestiferous trombone doing nothing to compliment dire lyrics such as time doesn’t need to know it’s not a countdown clock.

Whatever the Weather and Welcome to My Life drop the pace slightly, somehow increasing the ever-growing monotony provided throughout the EP. It begins to feel as though Less Than Jake have read about some secret music formula stating that intros must include a brass instrument and a beat to slowly skank to, with every track presenting itself as a remix to the next.

All things aside, 'Sound the Alarm' could be condensed down to any two songs and it’d have the exact same impact as it’s full 7-track length. Essentially everything has been heard before, with the band forming their own mould in the 90's and slotting everything since into it perfectly. At this point in their career Less Than Jake don’t need to try anything new, they’ve found their sound and seem comfortable in it, but it wouldn’t hurt to hear them at least stretch the mould.

Whilst enjoyable for dedicated fans who are perfectly satisfied with hearing a trombone blasted over a fast paced drum fill and an offbeat guitar, 'Sound the Alarm' is nothing exciting at all, following the same time-worn formula the band have been treading for over a decade.