When one mentions the Mighty Mighty Bosstones in a music conversation, there are certain images that automatically pop into your head if you are at all familiar with the early history of the band. Alcohol, frat parties, good times, and upbeat ska-core that could double as party music would all be some of these things. But, as we all know, things change, and so have the Bosstones. They are no longer the good time party band, and have turned into a very respectable band capable of writing serious songs that will still make you get up and skank like never before. The beginning of this change came on the 1994 album Question the Answers, a very musically mature effort that shows the band first exploring territory they would continue to explore (with various levels of success) on 1997's Let's Face It and this year's absolutely amazing Pay Attention.
You'll notice some of the major differences between this release and the Bosstones' previous release, 1993's Don't Know How to Party. For one, the production is crisper, and probably is the best production job on a Bosstones' album ever, with the possible exception of More Noise and Other Disturbances. The mix of genres the Bosstones cover also becomes much more melodic and rhythmical here, with every instrument playing a large part in most songs. And, perhaps most importantly, lead singer Dicky Barrett's voice has not become the victim of overproduction, as seems to always happen with a Bosstones album.
The songs have all the elements of classic Bosstones anthems of the past like Someday I Suppose and Devil's Night Out. However, the band has become much more mature in their songwriting.
My personal highlight is the second song on the disc, entitled A Sad Silence. Musically, it switches up from reggae verses to what is almost a straight rock anthem chorus. The song focuses on gang violence and "street life", and much like Numbered Days off of Let's Face It, the song is very much anti-violence. Guitarist Nate Albert has come up with some sweet ringing guitar licks here, and they should be listened for carefully, as for some reason he is not up front on the mix. Also of note is drummer Joe Sirois' killer chinese crash fills which give the song some cool sounds.
However, what really signaled to me that this was a different and more mature band was song five, We Should Talk. When I first was listening to this song, nothing really thrilled me about it. It seemed to be standard Bosstones fare that sounded a lot like Isachaar from Don't Know How To Party. But then all of a sudden, the chorus kicked in and I was floored. The Bosstones transformed a pretty boring song into something that was not to be missed because of a chorus that was completely unexpected. The horns sound full and the slowing down of the song is nothing short of brilliant.
I could go on and on and on about this record, but I think I'll cut this just a bit short. Other songs you should be sure to check out include Pictures to Prove It, an angry ode to a former lover, Jump Through the Hoops, which is a great song about the daily grind, and last but not least, be sure to check out Toxic Toast, which has a great piano opening that should not be missed.
While not the Bosstones best release (that belongs to Pay Attention), or my personal favorite (that's a toss up between PA and Don't Know How To Party), Question the Answers is a terrific release that is an essential album for Bosstones' fans.