Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Descendents

  • Milo Goes to College [New Alliance, 1982] A-
  • Bonus Fat [New Alliance EP, 1985] A-
  • I Don't Want to Grow Up [New Alliance, 1985] B+
  • Somery [SST, 1991] A-
  • Everything Sucks [Epitaph, 1996] Neither

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Milo Goes to College [New Alliance, 1982]
These fishermen don't kid around about what powers hardcore hyperdrive--not simply an unjust society, but also a battered psyche. When they're feeling bad, any kind of power--money, age, ass-man cool, the possession of a vagina--can set off their anarchic, patricidal, "homo"-baiting, gynephobic rage. But their bad feelings add poignant weight to the doomed vulnerability of the last four songs, which happen to be their hookiest--"Marriage" ("I want you to marry me"), "Hope" ("I'm not giving up"), "Bikeage" ("Don't be afraid, it's not too late") and--chillingly--"Jean Is Dead." And you thought there were no more concept albums. A-

Bonus Fat [New Alliance EP, 1985]
Adding two forgettable, surprisingly poppish pre-Milo songs and the notable post-Milo "Global Probing" to their punk classic, the 1981 seven-inch Fat E.P. Which consists of the gluttonous fifteen-second "I Like Food" ("Juicy burgers, greasy fries/Turkey legs and raw fish eyes/Teenage girls with ketchup too"), the contemptuous thirty-six-second "My Dad Sucks" ("It's value judgment time again"), the pugnacious 1:35-minute "Hey Hey" ("If you think that everything's OK/Then go home and lock your brains away"), and my second fave, a virtual miniopera at 2:09, "Mr. Bass," pronounced to rhyme with "ass," because it's about a scaly creature, not a musical instrument, as befits rock-and-rollers who work as fishermen. And topping if all off is their masterpiece, "Weinerschnitzel," eleven seconds of dialogue augmented by two guitar blams. All of the fifty or so listeners I've subjected to it have had the same basic response: "Play it again, willya?" So buy it again, willya? The sound's better. A-

I Don't Want to Grow Up [New Alliance, 1985]
They "don't even know how to sing," they excoriate themselves as perverts for wanting sex, and when they fall in love they try to write Beatles songs. Chances are you'll find them awkward, but I'm tremendously encouraged that they can fall in love at all. Anyway, their Beatles songs are pretty catchy. B+

Somery [SST, 1991]
Now d/b/a All, these unprivileged Orange County punks had two great moments, The Fat EP and Milo Goes to College--both half cannibalized here, both now fully comprised by the Two Things at Once CD. Begin there. But anyone beguiled, enthralled, or smacked between the eyes by how nakedly these guys don't quite understand their class rage and love-hungry sexual anxiety will hear through their bouts of misogyny and sophomoric humor for the 19 more tuneful if less inspired selections from three later and lesser albums, as in the tortured breakup song/metaphor "Dirty Sheets" and the fuckup/square's confession "Coolidge." A-

Everything Sucks [Epitaph, 1996] Neither