Following Christmas Island, arguably the band’s least exciting album, Andrew Jackson Jihad dropped all but their initials. The Bible 2 lacks some of the laugh out loud humor of classics like People Who Can Eat People are the Luckiest People in the World, but AJJ hold onto their lyrical grace, while continuing to shake up the worlds of folk and punk.
AJJ have never been virtuosos with their instruments. This album sees some more experimentation: “American Garbage” is very synth heavy, and “Small Red Boy” is an incredibly produced, textured track. Most of the experimentation is nothing to write home about, and the album even closes on a lo-fi track reminiscent of the band’s early recordings. Most of the fuzzy tones and weird vocal effects tend to be mediocre at best and annoying at worst. Still some of the riffs are catchy enough to compliment the songs like in “Golden Eagle.”
What AJJ lacks in virtuosity, they make up for in lyricism. When discussing AJJ, it’s important to note that they’ve been growing more and more serious as a band in recent years. While the band always did address serious issues, there was always some tongue-in-cheek humor of interpolating Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” or singing the joys of being a straight, white, cisgendered male in America. Of course, the band couldn’t completely ditch the laughs. Watch the video for “Goodbye, Oh Goodbye” or catch the Cannibal Corpse reference in “No More Shame, No More Fear, No More Dread.” Much of The Bible 2 seems to reflect on the past as a means to make sense of one’s self currently. Lead vocalist Sean Bonnette battles his childhood demons on tracks like “Cody’s Theme” or “Goodbye, Oh Goodbye.” He references sleeping through church or his teacher speaking to his mom. The album’s penultimate track is a larger number than AJJ has tackled before with an outro that sees Bonnette practically bursting at the seams. “My hatred turned to pity/my resentment blossomed flowers/my bitter tasted candy/my misery was power,” he sings in a moment of triumphant self-loathing.
AJJ still brings some of the most infectious vocal melodies to their simplistic lyrics. “Junkie Church’s “Oh, I love you cause I love you cause I can” is one of the most soothing melodies to ever leave Bonnette’s lips. While the band may no longer be telling dirty jokes. They’ve brought a new offbeat sense of emotionality to their band, and The Bible 2 is a nice change of pace following a new name.
Listen to The Bible 2 here.
James is on Twitter.