The No Fun EP
US release date: 27 May 2003
UK release date: Available as import
by Andrew Gilstrap
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Local H has aggression in spades, and they put it to good use on this six-song, thirty-minute EP. Newly retooled (drummer Joe Daniel left before 2002's Here Comes the Zoo, to be replaced by Triple Fast Action drummer Brian St. Clair), Local H seem to be getting very comfortable with their new arrangement. Despite some strong tracks, Here Comes the Zoo didn't quite click, but No Fun finds the band flailing away through three originals and three covers with new life.
Of the originals, "No Fun" kicks things off. Like a lot of Local H material, it doesn't try to reinvent the wheel, relying instead on an ominous drum beat and guitar blasts that could level folk clubs three towns over. "Cooler Heads" rumbles in on a slurred, catchy riff that eases back while vocalist/guitarist Scott Lucas muses on the fleeting nature of scenes and trends. "President Forever", though, kicks up the most dust with a scathing, below-the-belt indictment of life under George W. Bush. Sample lyric: "Daddy look at me I'm a big boy now / A brat to the manor born / Who wants to go back to war with Iraq / Who wants to shoot a slingshot full of rocks of crack" (OK, not sure what that last line's all about, but the song's attitude is plain). Chock full of hammering guitars, it sweeps you along in an angry tide. Even though its template isn't far removed from Local H's other songs, it deserves notice because it's one of the few songs of dissent that hasn't been relegated to Internet-only downloads, and for its total bypass of peace activism in favor of character assassination. Agree or disagree, at least Local H stick their necks out and voice a strong opinion.
Of the covers, No Fun includes The Godfathers' "Birth, School, Work, Death", which Local H give a measured, well-paced sense of imprisonment. The Ramones' "I Just Want Something to Do" stomps in on a fuzzy riff and some background piano as Lucas looks for a way to fend off the boredom of the lyrics. It's old hat, but Local H does that drums and guitars in sympathy thing about as well as anyone. The most interesting cover, though, is their take on the lyrics to Primal Scream's "Fuck Yeah, That Wide". Stretching out across nine minutes, it's one of the most interesting things Local H has done. For about the first minute and a half, it's pure Primal Scream swirliness before it settles into a riff that's totally Local H, but which wouldn't have been out of place on Primal Scream's Xtrmntr disc. From there, it just rolls on like a runaway train while blips and assorted electronica remnants run out on the tracks for a few seconds at a time. Even though the band gives music credits to "every band who's ever done this shit before", the song's a lot of fun (even more fun might be Primal Scream returning the favor by covering "President Forever").
All in all, No Fun is a good tide-me-over until their next studio record. Already, the band exhibits a better feel for things than on Here Comes the Zoo and they definitely get points for some interesting covers. Maybe those covers gave Local H a reminder of some sort; whatever the case, No Fun finds them resembling the lean riff machine of old.