Flatfoot 56 are a fun band. The bagpipes to open their sixth studio album are enough to make this point clear. The band’s jubilant brand of Celtic punk has been around for quite some time and they’re at it again with Toil, 13 tracks of just what they have been known for: Fun punk tracks backed by the unorthodox bagpipe.
Whether it’s the fast-paced opener “Brother, Brother” or something more like the toe tap-inducing “I Believe It,” Flatfoot 56 have a good grip on their style. Toil is basically packed to the brim with solid punk track after solid punk track. While there isn’t a whole lot of variation, it will be difficult for the listener to take a smile off of his or her face when the acoustic strum of the title track kicks in or the evident unadulterated urge to sing along with the cover of the old hymn “I’ll Fly Away.”
On the other hand, they bring a great presence to Toil in the form of tracks like “Work For Them” and “Terrorizing Truth” in which vocalist Tobin Bawinkel shows off his ability to balance rough vocals as well as delivering very singable melodies, very reminiscent of a band such as Living With Lions.
Though everything about this record is solid through and through, that is ultimately its downfall as well. When an album is as fluent and to-the-point as this one is, it becomes difficult for any single track to stand out among the rest and ultimately allows for a forgettable release which I’m afraid might be the case here. There is no doubt that Flatfoot 56 have released yet another fun Celtic punk record but at the end of the day, there isn’t anything special to separate Toil from some of the other great rock releases this year, such as The Menzingers or Japandroids.
It is pretty difficult to deliver something with enough variety and substance to make an impression on the music scene these days but that’s not the point of a band like Flatfoot 56. They’re here to remind us what punk music is all about: Not caring about what’s popular or what sells and just penning fun, carefree rock music for the benefit of the live show where the punk scene is at its richest, and that’s all that really needs to be accomplished.