It’s been a few years since the offensively-named Cerebral Ballzy unleashed hell on its self-titled debut. Cerebral Ballzy embodied the spirit of the great punk bands of the ’70s and ’80s, fueling mosh pits and filling venues full of sweaty teenagers as well as any other hardcore band.
But despite the contagious energy of the music, the blistering riffs and stereotypical “we don’t give a fuck” punk mentality, Cerebral Ballzy lacked fundamental songwriting skills, much like the outfit’s new record, Jaded & Faded.
A slew of shoddy, muffled mixes, absurd vocal stylings, and unbearably similar songs make Cerebral Ballzy altogether off-putting. While trying hard to be a rebellious, let’s-piss-off-our-parents type of album, Jaded & Faded comes off as nothing more than an unlistenable mess.
Of course, punk is a uniquely disorderly genre, but Jaded & Faded surpasses the acceptable dose of lawlessness. It’s hard to tell what’s going in any of the brief songs, all of which sound nearly identical with their lifeless riffs.
The album starts on “Another Day” with a slow, overdriven guitar, but it’s not long before the song loses any tinge of organization as it speeds up and singer Honor Titus starts barking his unintelligible lyrics. Impulsive tempo changes clash as the band clumsily trips over itself in a hasty effort to play as fast as possible, only to end up sounding musically illiterate. The same horrendous trend carries over the rest of the album, but gets more unbearable as it’s repeated for the umpteenpth time.
Cerebral Ballzy consistently stumbles through every song, regardless of speed, begging the question of whether the band has played its instruments at all in the years since its debut.
And just when you think the album couldn’t get worse than the muddled chorus of “Downtown” or the garbled shouts in “Parade of Idiots,” it sinks even lower.
Other bands have pulled off joke songs in the past (see: Blink-182’s “Depends”), but Cerebral Ballzy turns it into a total shit show. “Speed Wobbles” is a horrific waste of time and a serious challenge to sit through. It’s unclear whether the song was intended to be funny or not, but given how utterly dreadfully it’s performed, it can only be a failed joke or an ironic mockery of punk music. Titus squeals child-like lyrics about the dangers of speed wobbles while skating, further ruining the already dull instrumentals. As if the tone of his voice wasn’t bad enough, the lyrics, “Going so fast that it’s bound to end/Going down hard no matter how I shred,” are as basic as they come.
Titus goes back to adulthood on the following track, “Fast Food,” though he’s covering an equally vapid subject. This classic punk song proves that breakneck riffs and rebellious lyrics do not always make a hit. The instruments are so tangled that it’s hard to tell one from another, and the simple, repeated chorus of, “Fast food, kill that dude” reinforces the impression that Cerebral Ballzy is simply clueless.
The group has every necessary element of a punk rock band—except, of course, what makes the genre good. Yes, they thrash and scream and cause mayhem. Yes, they sing about sex and skateboarding and junk food. But the complete absence of depth destroys any chance of it becoming quality music. Without intelligent, pressing subject matter, the music loses its power, ultimately retracting to nothing more than incoherent noise.
What this all comes down to is Cerebral Ballzy’s complete lack of songwriting skill, which doesn’t reach far past a screaming baby dropping a distorted guitar on a drum set. The band knows punk and how to mimic it, but not how to make it worthy of anyone’s attention.
Cerebral Ballzy – Jaded & Faded tracklist:
- “Another Day”
- “Fake I.D.”
- “Parade of Idiots”
- “Better In Leather”
- “City’s Girl”
- “Lonely As America”
- “Speed Wobbles”
- “Fast Food”
- “Off With Your Head”
- “Pretty In The City”
- “Be Your Toy”
- “All I Ever Wanted”