Let’s get honest for a second, shall we? If there was an urgent need on the radio dial for a band that comes off as the smiling hybrid of Blink-182 and the now-defunct Sublime, then the Lucky Boys Confusion would fill that gap nicely. Ultimately, then, the first question is, is there really such a need? Seeing that Blink has failed to build any real steam since its Enema of the State and that the same can be said for what the latter has morphed into since lead singer Brad Nowell’s untimely death—the bloated, tattooed entourage that is the Long Beach Dub All-Stars—it’s not like Lucky Boys Confusion surfaced at the wrong time. Confused and untalented they aren’t—the band can play tap into a reggae vibe almost as well as it does power punk, sometimes switching gears mid-tune. But that leads us to question No. 2: Will anybody care?
Answers: 1) Maybe and 2) Perhaps. The Chicago-based quintet started out on the right page, after all. With a couple of EPs and an independently released album—and touting the fact they sold several thousand copies out of their cars and such—the grassroots audience was already in place when Game came along. Never mind the fact almost all of its songs were rehashed/rerecorded versions of what they’d done in their earlier years. Then, perhaps taking a cue from geek rockers Weezer (“Buddy Holly”, remember?), “Fred Astaire” was its first single. The song, about a mother’s failed ambitions to turn her son into the next Astaire superstar, had kids so confused, lead singer Kaustubh “Stubhy” Pandav goes to great pains on LBC’s Web site to explain that no, it is not a love song. So, re-introduce a dancer/singer/actor from yesteryear to an audience who quite possibly didn’t know a lick of him beforehand—not a bad start. Where to next?
Take your pick from a wide span of reggae and punk-pop party songs that make up the rest of the album. With songs like “Dumb Pop Song”, with the chorus “I’m gonna steal your girlfriend/ I’m gonna steal your girlfriend/ I’m gonna steal your girlfriend/ I’m gonna steal your girl”, it becomes readily apparent that the well-disguised seriousness of, say, “Astaire” is a rarity on this venture. The rest of the time is spent proving they can rock hard, well, in a 311 kinda way. The times are few that the Boys take so much as a breath between songs, connecting their tales of pot smuggling, police evasion, and the oppression of the “bossman” quite seamlessly. Each sounds a little like the next but, to their credit, they’ve done quite well with the torch they’ve been passed, almost doing their schtick better than their aforementioned predecessors. (And, besides, when’s the last time you heard an Indian reggae song, done in the singer’s native tongue even?)
Here’s something quizzical—a song called “Do You Miss Me (Killians)”, a remake of Jocelyn Enriquez’s 1996 club staple of the same name. The two bear little resemblance to the other, but again, here is a hit in the making. It’s worked for so many others—Alien Ant Farm and Orgy to name some notables—that it’s almost a no-brainer here. Toss in the requisite love ballad, here it’s the acoustic “Never Like This”, and you’ve got the perfectly marketed debut by an alterna-boy band. It’s only frosting on the cake that the thrift store is where Lucky Boys Confusion finds its threads and that they have no qualms about swearing frequently throughout: as bad as they might wanna appear, though, they’re still ooey-gooey sweet at their respective centers.