Ultimate Fakebook – Open Up and Say Awesome

Ultimate Fakebook
Open Up and Say Awesome

So they’ve had their shot at the major labels, and now they’re back. The three boys of Ultimate Fakebook scored a touring van out of their deal with Epic, the label that released the excellent This Will Be Laughing Week, and now they’re setting up camp at Initial Records with their latest, Open Up and Say Awesome.
Looking back at the discography of Ultimate Fakebook is like looking through the diary of one of the teenage kids that the band writes so many of its songs about. The trio’s debut effort, Electric Kissing Parties, was like freshman year of high school, with the awkwardness of not really fitting in and not really knowing what to do with yourself. This Will Be Laughing Week was a more confident and polished effort, showing signs of experience and maturity. Nights were spent contemplating love and life, enjoying the simplicity of making out and rock and roll. Now we have Open Up and Say Awesome, which enters a more developed and slightly jaded stage in life. It is little less sugary-sweet and carefree, but still full of energy and vigor.
These guys aren’t afraid to admit their simultaneous love for both cheesy pop and hair metal. The pop melodies, huge hooks, and crunching chords come from singer and guitarist Bill McShane, whose smooth and diverse vocal stylings are often compared to the likes of Elvis Costello. His work is strengthened by bassist Nick Colby and drummer Eric Melin, who pound away furiously one moment and retreat into peaceful contemplation the next.
What were once the slower songs scattered throughout an album, worthy of play at a junior high dance, have now been amped up a notch or two. For examples, see “Forever, Forever” and “Combat Fatigue,” which features supporting vocals from Kansas buddy Matthew Pryor of The Get Up Kids. Fellow Get Up Kid James Dewees contributes keyboards on two tracks, while Stephen Egerton of The Descendents and All is also on the guest list, performing the guitar solo on “Before You Leave.” If you miss the aforementioned slower songs that were more prevalent on past albums, there are the gentle “Girl, Here’s Another Lie” and “Red Elbows.” On the other hand, what were once the more aggressive tracks are now even heavier. The opening track, “Wrestling Leap Year,” is the perfect example, as it rocks harder than any song the band has ever released, and “Before You Leave” is a quick little punk rock snippet. Songs like “The Scheme to Listen No More,” “When I’m With You, I’m OK,” and “Goddamn Dance Craze” display that patented pop-punk-metal sound the band adores so much and has gotten so damn good at. And it wouldn’t be an Ultimate Fakebook album without a fun-loving song about the guys and their love for rock and roll. “Let me warn you first cuz we weren’t cool / We were the only rockers at our school / Playing Cinderella covers cuz there wasn’t nothing else to do,” McShane sings on “Popscotch Rock Party.”
At first, Open Up and Say Awesome will slightly pale in comparison to the band’s last effort, but it is one of those albums that you really learn to adore after a couple of listens. Just goofy and poppy enough to make you smile, but rocking enough to have you bouncing off the walls. Emo-pop plus cock-rock equals the infectious Ultimate Fakebook.