Released on June 13th 2000, Pump Up The Valuum is NOFX's 9th full-length studio release. Coming off of the release of their critically acclaimed 18 minute long single The Decline in late 1999, and a subsequent 7 inch single Pods And Gods in early 2000, the hype surrounding Pump Up The Valuum was relatively large for a punk band who never produced music videos or sent out singles to radio stations.
The previous full-length, to which Pump Up The Valuum is the follow up record to, came out in 1997, and was entitled So Long And Thanks For All The Shoes. On this album the short, well structured song reigned supreme above any elongated, and well developed songs; the whole album clocks in just under 30 minutes with a total of 16 songs. A lot of these songs also include very untraditional aspects of music as far as punk rock is concerned: NOFX goes as far as to dabble in ska, which a lot of their fans just weren't down with. However, one thing that NOFX perfected with So Long And Thanks For All The Shoes was their ability to make an album completely cohesive and unified with one overall sound and feel.
Pump Up The Valuum takes the best of these aforementioned releases and combines them all into one work of art that tops anything NOFX has done since Punk In Drublic, which many punk rock elitists will not only call the best NOFX album ever, but also the best punk album ever.
With Pump Up The Valuum NOFX is somehow becoming more mature: obviously not with their lyrical content, as they still write songs dealing with transsexuals and dominating lesbians, but with the depth and complexity of their songs. All of the songs that made the cut for the album are real top notch punk rock. This could come from the fact that NOFX took 3 full months to record the album, which is the longest they ever spent recording a single effort. In fact, Punk In Drublic took only 3 weeks to complete. During the 3 months of recording the band actually recorded 22 songs, but eventually scrapped 8 of them, taking 14 for the album and leaving the rest for the Bottles To The Ground E.P.
Another enduring aspect of Pump Up The Valuum is that feeling that it is a return to normality in some respects for NOFX. This record had an almost complete lack of anything but straight forward punk rock, with the exception to the pseudo-polka closing track. This isn't to say that the songs are devoid of anything but distorted guitar and double-bassed drums. Fat Mike took the liberty to give their songs a little more depth with some nice, subtle keyboard parts on various songs and some other kinds of studio trickery that make the album much more unified.
(the song breakdown for Pump Up The Valuum)
1. And Now For Something Completely Similar (0:58)
Excellent intro track that does sound very much like Linoleum and Shadows Of Defeat, as the vocals on the compact disc proclaim. On the vinyl version the lyrics are changed to the italicized quote at the top of this.
2. Take Two Placebos And Call Me Lame (2:25)
An excellent, maybe typical NOFX song, with the characteristic double-bass drum beat and parts of bassy jingles. What makes this song particularly strong is the very catchy chorus, which sometimes can be lacking in NOFX songs.
3. What's The Matter With Parents Today (1:58)
A simple, but very effecting song. Particularly funny lyrics, and a great execution of a organ type sound during the bridge section of the song.
4. Dinosaurs Will Die (2:59)
This is perhaps the best song on the album, with both extremely solid composition and lyrics proclaiming the validity of punk rock ethics in an ever progressing lumber to the death of the music industry. The ending has some nice aah's.
5. Thank God It's Monday (1:39)
Another excellent, to the point song; there is almost no breathing room in this one. The background vocals make it an exquisite experience.
6. Clams Have Feelings Too (Actually They Don't) (2:32)
Just like the previous song it's ultra-fast and to the point. With pretty funny lyrics, and even a key change, I think, and the first guitar solo of the album, it's another excellent song on this album.
7. Louise (1:50)
Slowing things down a bit, Louise is the kid sister to the Louise and Liza E.P. The first time I heard these lyrics they made me cringe in a way.
8. Stranger Than Fishin' (1:06)
This one is most definitely a keeper. In just under a minute it's a quick and worth while fix, although it may be the only bit of downtime on the album. I would have placed Pods And Gods here instead.
9. Pharmacist's Daughter (1:58)
Pharmacist's Daughter, along with Dinosaurs Will Die and the upcoming track, is another stand out track on the album. It features another sweet guitar solo, some very catchy drums, and an even catchier outro.
10. Bottles To The Ground (2:20)
This song is so good that it was worthy of it's own seperate release as an EP with two songs that were not on the Pump Up The Valuum. That EP was supposed to come out before the full-length but came out after , however, because of some printing mishap. The bridge of this song is very catchy, even though it feels like it switchs time signature in the middle.
11. Total Bummer (2:14)
Speaking out to the lonely punk rock losers out there. A little bit darker and a little bit more depressing, this song is just a little bit subpar for this album, but it's still worth while. The drum track is again particularly fun to listen to.
12. My Vagina (2:36)
Another relatively simple song that is saved with some pretty funny lyrics and nice chorus equiped with a bell-sounding synth. Another one of Fat Mike's lesbian obsessed songs.
13. Herojuana (2:46)
And then on the other spectrum are the drug obsessed songs. This song, like others that I've pointed out, has a very catchy chorus and outro.
14. Theme From A NOFX Album (4:17)
This is the Together On The Sand of Pump Up The Valuum, kinda silly but still very enjoyable. It starts off with a nice waltz, complete with accordian accompaniment, and then moves on to be a full on punk rock anthem.