Question the Answers

by: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

Once tagged neatly as ska-core, over the years the Mighty Mighty Bosstones have not merely defined and refined this genre, they've moved beyond it as well, as their fourth full-length Question the Answers amply illustrates. Of course, the Beantown heroes still kick out a mighty big sound, but there's so much more to their music nowadays. Take the "A Dollar and a Dream," with its thick late-night-in-a-dive-atmospheres that swell in and out of the jazzy, grungy chorus. Or the set opener "Kinder Words," that begins with a techno beat, powers up into '70s rock, then gleefully slides into a knees-up, anthemic skanker. And best of all "Toxic Toast," which skitters between glowing piano passages and scorching rock'n'reggae. The Bosstones excel at such startling musical shifts, thumbing their noses at conventional arrangements and genre specification, their sound as slippery as greased pigs, and never more so than on this set. But for all its wild abandon, the songs are tightly constructed, the instrumentation dense, and the textures full and fleshy with a myriad of moods and music. Thus, Question is one of those glorious albums that demands repeat playings, the only way to really to grasp all the wonderful things going on within, but for all its busy-ness, it never sounds cluttered or chaotic (well, yeah sometimes, but that's intentional). And there's still the hooks, the grand choruses, and the fabulous lyrics, which range from the swaggering compliments of "Hell of a Hat," an ode to a particularly notable piece of headware, to the horrifying portrait of a child bullied and beaten into oblivion. In between these two thematic extremes, there's plenty of meaty numbers for fans to get their teeth into, and more than enough rockers and skankers to sate the masses. A sensational set. ~ Jo-Ann Greene

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