I talked a couple of weeks ago about how eagerly I’ve been anticipating this album since hearing “What’s Up Fatlip?” waaaaaaaaayyy back in 2000. I have no patience for the braggadocio that seems to account for 90% of the lyrics on rap records, so I probably would have taken the song as a breath of fresh air even if it stunk — hell, I even liked 1000 Clowns — but it’s brilliant. So much so, in fact, that between its brilliance and what ended up being a five-year wait for The Loneliest Punk, the album was bound to fall short of expectations.
And fall short it does. There are some really good songs here — like the single, “Writer’s Block,” the genuinely moving babymamadrama number “The Story of Us” (download), and the pep talk to his oldest son that is “Dreams” (download) — and nothing that’s ever less than okay. Even the stuff that’s strictly formula, like “Cook” and “Freaky Pumps,” gets by on Fatlip’s scuffed-up outsider charm. So even though nothing here lives up to the glorious promise of “What’s Up Fatlip?,” I’m not sure what could’ve.
Probably the main thing wrong with Punk is that it’s larded over with between-song filler, but that’s a problem with so many rap albums that it’s almost not even worth mentioning. And really, the non-songs here aren’t even that bad; at least they aren’t comedy skits that go from unfunny to painful with repeated listens. Slapping a beat on an answering machine message is a great way to make a bonus track, though, not maintain the flow of an album, and Punk stops and starts so many times — I think there’s an interlude between almost every song — that it’s easy to lose track of how many actual songs there are.
Given Fatlip’s tragic backstory, it’s gratifying just to see this album finally come out. Hopefully, we’ll see another one before 2010.