Few musical collections have made as much of an impact as Black Flag’s catalogue of albums. Music nerds and punk purists can argue the merits of he individual singers, but on a whole the music of Black Flag is above reproach. Greg Ginn, lead songwriter and guitar genius of Black Flag, returns this month with a brand new project called Good For You. Besides Ginn’s guitar sound, Good For You features skateboard icon Mike Vallely as its mouthpiece. The new album is titled Life Is Too Short To Not Hold A Grudge. Perhaps a better title would have been Dashing Punk Rock Hopes Worldwide because those thinking this dynamic duo couldn’t fail, would be very, very wrong.
Life Is Too Short does get off to a rollicking start. “I’d Rather Die” has a cool riff with Ginn’s fingerprints all over it. Fuzzy, filthy, jangly and dissonant, Ginn nails his specialties all at once. Vallely’s voice is strong as he belts out the opening line “Life is too short not to hold a grudge”. At this point we have no idea how much of a one trick pony Vallely is, so his voice is kind of cool. It’s clear he’s doing his best Henry Rollins impression, but you forgive it because when blended with everything else Vallely’s voice has a nice presence to it.
Problems enter into the arena pretty quickly. “No Plan B” sounds like any run of the mill noisy punk tune. It also goes on for entirely too long. Adding to the issue is Vallely, whose voice hasn’t changed at all from what we just heard. Delivery to cadence, he barks it all the same way. Whatever clemency given to Vallely in the first song is revoked post haste as soon as it becomes clear that this is all he can do. Some will say Rollins had a certain repetition to his vocals. Fair enough, but Rollins had great lyrics. Vallely does not, on any level, have lyrics that do more than insight douche chills.
“Hanging Around” is where his lyrics jump from douche chilling to unforgivably bad. “Hanging around like a fucking piñata/bust me open and you’ll find nada”. Seriously? Vallely then follows this up by repeating “hanging around” to the point you begin wondering if anybody in the studio was listening to what he was saying. Ginn doesn’t make things better by hammering his boring riff home with the same kind of repetitive nature. It’s a two-fisted hammer fuck of an uninteresting riff and bad vocals.
The six-minute plus “Knife In The Face” is so bad it teeters on becoming a sketch comedy parody of a “punk band”. I love doom, I have no issue with plodding riffs moving at a glacial pace through extended running times, but only if the riff is interesting. Most of “Knife In The Face” sounds like Ginn made it up as he was going along. A part here, a part there, with none of these smashed together bits even approaching cohesive or entertaining. With all that boredom, it’s Vallely’s lyrics that kill this song dead. “This is the sound of shattered dreams/They flew too hard above their means”, is one that sticks out, though the section where he starts comparing himself and his buddy to “Superman and Super Dog”, is hard to get past.
“Stupid Me” is a decent high-energy jammer and the first tune where it feels like Ginn put any real work into it. The best part is the noise of the riff and the energy of song drown out whatever silliness Vallely is droning on about. “Good Sport” is a decent song but who wants decent from Greg Ginn? Moreover, who wants to put time or effort into something “decent”. Decent is for cups of coffee and action movies, not a record featuring Greg Ginn.
Life Is Too Short Not To Hold A Grudgelimps through itself with little to no grandeur. Musically this whole album lacks cohesion. Every change, all the subtle shifts in time and speed, the stuff Greg Ginn is a master of, come across as forced. Structurally everything feels tacked on, there is no flow to the album at all. Clunker after clunker, Life Is Too Short pushes the boundaries of tedium like no record I’ve come across in a while. The music, and especially the lyrics, scream high school talent show. Ginn’s band may be called Good For You, but this album isn’t good for anybody.