The best thing about NOFX has always been that the band doesn’t take itself too seriously. Even at its most political (“The Decline”), the quartet sounded like it was enjoying itself, smirking and grinning even as the band — and its music — seethed. The thing is, over the past few years, NOFX is still a bunch of goofs, but even the band seems tired of its own jokes. Cokie the Clown provides further evidence of its carefree energy slipping into caricature.
The five songs here were all left off the band’s recent and decent Coaster full-length release and with good reason. The title track is a poor joke about a clown on cocaine, and “Straight Outta Massachusetts” is a tepid buildup to a silly punch line. The best song is the hook-filled “Codependence Day”, but even that doesn’t reach the two-minute mark and rests on juvenile drug references. The one earnest moment here comes with the acoustic version of “My Orphan Year”. The full-band version on Coaster was one of the album’s highlights, offering a rare moment of heartfelt confession from Fat Mike. Here, the acoustic version makes it sound whiny and slight, where the previous take is angry, hurt, and churning.
All in all, Cokie the Clown is another in a growing pile of questionable releases from these guys. It’s great NOFX still doesn’t itself seriously. Maybe the band shouldn’t be so nonchalant about wasting its fans’ time.