So the O.C. Supertones are back together. And Five Iron Frenzy just wowed the world by showing that they have more supportive fans than anyone else. And I think somewhere, the Insyderz are doing something ska-related.
What the heck?
I considered ska my favorite music in early high school (1999-2002) and for most of that time, the Supertones were my favorite band. Anyone who missed out on the pure magic of looking at the booklet for Supertones Strike Back has missed something fundamental to ska music. That album was great and the pictures and layout of the booklet were so cool, I get shivers thinking about it. It was the perfect summer music and the perfect music to skate to. At that time ska and punk were the coolest things in the universe. They described who I was and who I wanted to be. They were an intrinsic part of my identity. When those bands broke up, they knew their genres had died out and they left quietly for the most part (except for FIF). I learned to live without ska and punk and graduated into both heavier music and softer music.
And now they’re all back. I don’t know if there’s a gigantic conspiracy to prove that no band is ever permanently dead (just think of all the broken up bands reuniting in the past couple years) or if I should jump for joy that the bands I liked when I was in my middle teenage years are reforming.
But I digress. The whole point of this post is to explore the different approaches to lyrics. I happen to think there’s a great illustration of the different styles of faith-based lyrics right here in the small world of ska music.
The O.C. Supertones always had a very overt Christian message. Matt Morginsky had sound, biblical theology and infused his message very clearly in his lyrics. I loved that. When I was 16.
Reese Roper of Five Iron Frenzy always took a more artistic approach. His spiritual message was always veiled a little by humor and sometimes by more obscure subjects of faith, such as the exploitation of Native Americans in manifest destiny.
These two methods contrast pretty seriously. For some people, lyrics that heavily utilize metaphors don’t get the job done in the gospel-proclamation department. For others, more subtle references to faith make the message palatable by excluding the bold, forced feeling of obvious lyrics. At this time in my life, I fall more into the Subtle Crowd. I like my Alchemy Index by Thrice. I like the feel of subtle lyrics woven into the music to present strong symbols. I like LOST. (Here we go…)
But you know, I’ve started coming back around to enjoying the more overt lyrical messages. BTA has always been pretty clearly rooted in the clear-cut proclamation of the gospel. And I respect that lots of great artists still do that. The other day I found myself singing “Every single moment whether sleeping or awake is Your creation, and what You made is good. I don’t always thank You for the rough days and the hard times in my life, even though I should.” That Supertones song was as unsubtle as it gets and it was supposed to be that way. The lyrics and message wouldn’t have worked any other way.
Ok, so let’s recap. Ska is back. Lyrics can be message-oriented whether they’re overt or subtle. I usually prefer subtle. What do you prefer and why? Can you defend your position? Can you remember all the lyrics to the entire Supertones Strike Back album?