The Vapids – Revenge Therapy LP

The Vapids
Revenge Therapy LP
Beyond a certain point, it’s understandable how fans of any given punk band lower their expectations of new albums, when they’re announced. Part of that might have to do with the age of the band playing a role; whether they admit it or not, fans of four-chord punk expect the bands making the music to be young and snotty. It could be argued that such is the reason why the phrases, “young punk” and, “old punk” mean completely different things. With that in mind, the fact that The Vapids’ new album, Revenge Therapy, appears now – twenty-nine years after their first release – and is marked as one of the best in their catalogue is just shocking. Granted, fans knew the band was good – but no one could have seen such a great presentation coming this late in the band’s career. In Revenge Therapy‘s fifteen cuts are a series of songs which will not only satisfy long-time fans, they’ll also introduce a whole new group to the band as well.

The above might sound like a good sales pitch, but the proof of the album’s good quality appears quickly and easily in listening to it. From the moment “Bang To Rights” opens the A-side of the album, listeners will be surprised and feel validated as drummer Scott Johnston hits the ground already warm and running while singer/guitarist Jim Reed, guitarist Matt Elvis and bassist Eric Felgner prove they haven’t lost a step but have tightened with age. Further, lines like, “Believing is the hardest thing to do/ When the oath that you took/ and the words in their book/Don’t mean a damned thing to you/ And you’re crawling on all fours to make it home” feature a hint of classic rock about them, but the obvious punk backbone which holds them up hits hard and in a really anthemic way. For the two and a half minutes that it takes to make it through the song, The Vapids prove that Revenge Therapy holds more promise than many late-career albums which were made by other bands who were cut from the same cloth.

As solid as “Bang To Rights” proves to be as it opens the album, the play only gets better as it progresses. Listeners will find themselves unable to keep their jaws from hanging open as the band exceeds any expectations that fans might have with “Sixty-Six Feet Down” (easily the hardest, fastest offering on the album, with Reed’s vocals doubled in order to imply even greater speeds achieved through the song, and then the group doubles down by taking the same stance on “No Identity” before aligning some inspired ideas that no one could possibly have expected from The Vapids on “Schoolyard Justice.” There – while it could easily be guessed that the band’s desire was to come close to making their own version of The Ramones’ “Poison Heart” – the band breezes clean past that possibility and rages right into Heartbreakers territory with “Please Kill Me”-inspired minor chords which beautifully close the song.

While it could easily be contended that The Vapids gently install a little bit of filler in the later-playing of Revenge Therapy‘s A-side (“Human Machine” and “Rock, Paper, Scissors” are both just flimsy enough to be forgettable in their play to be forgettable), the side closes well with “Black Mirror” (which, with its saw-like guitar and lean-but-muscular drums, would fit right into the soundtrack for a future season of Stranger Things), and leaves the gates wide open for the B-side of the album to start building fresh all over again. Better still, the B-side delivers on that promise; “Devil On Both Shoulders” exerts a similar kind of energy to The Ramones’ “I Don’t Care,” but shines even brighter as “40 Eyes” follows with some very Misfits energy before “Automatic Reaction” swings close to exemplifying the fury that The Vapids blasted out in their prime, “Daylight Be Damned” settles all arguments before it with raw volume and speed and “Living By The Sword” closes out the album with one last disillusioned blast before the needle lifts from the album. In truth, the closure that “Living By The Sword” offers feels startlingly fulfilling; the song collects the raw energy which buoys the best songs on Revenge Therapy along and combines that with a solid, road-hardened vocal performance to really feel like the threads of the album are knit together tightly, and closes fast enough to feel thoroughly fulfilling too. When the needle lifts, listeners will feel sorry to hear the album close.

Running top-to-bottom and front-to-back with the album, there’s just no way to find fault with Revenge Therapy. Now over thirty years into their career, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if The Vapids hit some kind of a wall or other insurmountable obstacle which could have spelled the end for the band – but that they’ve produced (literally, self-produced) a document as strong as Revenge Therapy makes it a true achievement. No one comes right out and says it anywhere on this album, but Revenge Therapy outlines the heart and soul of The Vapids perfectly [Bill Adams]


Revenge Therapy is out now. Buy it here, on The Vapids’ official bandcamp page.

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