It’s difficult to evaluate Cool Patrol.
On the one hand, some of the songs have been in the public eye for a while – the song the album is named for, for example, has been with us for as long as two years, which is a VERY long time for a single to be floating around. Even back as far as that, it was a near-certainty that this was the name of the album.
In that time, the band have gone on to release a covers album, circling back around to writing songs for Cool Patrol after.
The other problem with Cool Patrol is a simple one: lots of the best songs are front-loaded.
Right out the gate, we have “Cool Patrol,” “Orgy for One,” “Danny Don’t You Know” [more about that in a minute] and “Release the Kraken” all in rapid fire.
All are great songs and all do various musical things the band has never done before. Right from the moment the song “Cool Patrol” starts, you can hear that the band has come a long, long way since “NSFW” In terms of songwriting, even if the structure of the lyrics isn’t entirely novel. [We’ve seen twists on this idea in prior songs like “Attitude City” and the like.]
This barrage of great songs is bought to a close by “Release the Kraken,” a song that plays with time signature in a way no other NSP song has done before, and it is wonderful for it. A sort of condensed prog-rock ode to a very underwhelming Kraken monster, it screams right along at a frenetic pace until the denouncement at the very end. I’m sure this is going to become a fan-favourite at concerts and is going to be one of the pieces that this album is remembered for.
This front-loading comes to a halt at about this point. There’s still good music to be found – TWRP [Tupperware Remix Party] do a GREAT job of elevating and reinvigorating the classic NSP sound on the amazing “Mansion Party,” you can also hear their very funk-sounding grooves on the aptly named “Smooth Talkin’” and the album certainly wouldn’t be the same without the hilariously-awkward “First Date” but nothing /quite/ compares to those first four songs.
On top of all this, there’s the problem of “Danny Don’t You Know.”
To put this into perspective, I want to be quite clear that I’m on board with that song. So on board, in fact, that I think it’s the VERY best song they’ve ever done. There’s such a quiet sincerity that flows from the lyrics to the music to the tone of the song that it feels sort of oddly out of place with the rest of the album. It’s oddly difficult to marry this quiet, sincere side of the band to the prior side, which is mainly about sex and drugs and rock and roll and hilarious one-liners.
But it’s on the record, so it has to be evaluated alongside sometimes-klunkers like “Romance Novel” and “Ninja Brian goes to Soccer Practice.”
Ultimately, I think this is the problem with “Cool Patrol” as a whole. It just doesn’t mesh together quite so well as some of their other work. Is it their best album? By far and away. The music is leagues ahead of anything released on “NSFW” or “Strawberries and Cream.” The lyrics are becoming ever stronger and ever more interesting. [There’s a string of great lines in “Release The Kraken”] And there’s a tug of sincerity and heart-felt-ness that hasn’t been seriously present in any of their prior work.
But I feel like this new formula needs a little more time to shake out. Maybe they’ll get it right on their next release, but for now, their first attempt at a “second generation” NSP is a fine start.
Should you buy it?
My recommendation is a little muddled.
On the one hand, if you’re a casual fan, I’d pick up the four songs I mentioned in this review as being sterling. They’re all great songs and will give you a taste of the new NSP.
If you’re a die-hard fan, I’d recommend this album. You’ll find a lot of little jokes to chuckle at [I may not be on board with “Soccer Practice” and while the sentiment of “Heart Boner” is a bit of a miss for me, I appreciate the sincerity of that song] and a great new sound beating under Avidan’s ever-wonderful voice.
If you’re new to the band, whoo boy. “Danny Don’t You Know” is…very different. If that was your first exposure to them, I’d absolutely recommend also trying “Release the Kraken” [which will ground you in the band’s very fantastical roots and ideas] and “Orgy for One” [which will attune you to their kind of sometimes-single-mindedness about sex and sexual things.]
On the whole, this is a worthy successor to “Attitude City,” since it keeps mining that particular vein of funky dance music and daft metal jokes. They’re trying new ideas, it’s certainly paying off, but they DO need to work on the even-ness of that sound.
Header Image Graphics By Pixabay.