Loud, unforgiving, and catchy as all hell, The Jetbirds’ full-length debut, Evolved Animal, hits hard out the gate and never relents. Laced with the signature hooks and harmonies that cemented the Street Brats and Non-Believers places as Chicago punk greats, vocalist/guitarist Max Kijek has returned with his latest chapter of should-be hits and dead-end gems.
The record’s opener, “Bad Seed,” kicks in immediately with Kijek belting the unapologetic, coming of age story of reckless youth blurring into adulthood— a place where glory has long died, but debauchery is still king. The opening cut segues directly into the riff-heavy, “Liquor Store,” where this same down-and-out sentiment is echoed even louder—“From dead-end streets I’ll never wonder. Excess makes the heart grow fonder. Crawl out from that rock you’ve been hiding under. You look so dirty, but it’s so nice to know ya.”
As the album progresses, lead guitarist Jerry Murrad continuously asserts the presence of his Goldtop Les Paul, adding a menacing growl to cuts like “Nuke Warm” and “New Setta Wheels,” while harmonizing perfectly with Kijeck’s riff-central, sing-along chorus’s on “Without You” and “Suicide Love”—all of which first appeared on the group’s debut EP, “Suicide Love Songs,” and reappear on the full length because…well they fucking rule! (Editor’s Note: I didn’t realize I singled out these four specific tracks until after the fact. Punk!)
At this point of the game Kijeck definitely has his formula set—the guy knows his craft, and executes it damn well. But that is not to say there is no variety throughout Evolved Animal. The chants of “Refuse, Reject, Resist” on “Give ‘Em Hell Johnny” harken back to the pogo styling of the Street Brats’ “Short Fused Street Punk E.P,” while a tune like “She’s the Gun” expands into elements of hard rock, and further displays the dynamics of Kijeck and Murrad’s guitar-weave.
The album’s title track and closer, “Evolved Animal” encapsulates the dissatisfaction and refusal to change that is thriving throughout —leaving zero guessing room for artistic intention, and imploring all detractors to “get the fuck out.” Wrapping up the lifer-mentality kicked off on “Bad Seeds,” Kijek solidifies his destitute destiny, and warns that any attempt to slow his role will only make him worsen: “No sense in getting tamed. Like a problem you can solve. The more you push that animal, the more that it evolves.”
While the musical animal has evolved, the attitude and intensity are refreshingly unchanged. These guys have more than enough talent to be selling out stadiums around the world, but for now you can catch them touching the poisoned hearts of delinquents at your local dive bar. Highly recommended for fans of The Street Brats, The Clash, and Social Distortion.
To download Evolved Animal in its entirety for just seven dollars check out The Jetbirds’ Bandcamp.
For tour dates and all other happenings visit their Facebook.