ALBUM REVIEW: NOFX vs Frank Turner – ‘West Coast Vs Wessex’: a transatlantic punk song trade

IT’S a split album, but it’s not a split in the standard form.

In one corner you have NOFX, probably the best and most forthright pop punk band ever to grace your ears, who have teamed up with Frank Turner, the Wessex purveyor of punk attitude filled slabs of rock/folk. 

They’re not satisfied with doing things as the norm which, if you’re a fan of either or both artists may not be such a surprise as they both have always cut their own niche in every musical and lyrical way possible.

So here’s the beauty of it all: we have NOFX singing Frank Turner songs and yes, you guessed it, Frank Turner singing NOFX songs.

This isn’t a first for NOFX, with their 2012 BYO Split Series Volume III with Rancid springing to mind, but from the off this from the off West Coast Vs Wessex has a totally different feel.  What stands out more than anything is just how great the lyrics of both Fat Mike and Frank are. Having the chance to hear both sets given a whole new slant is what makes this album worth your hard-earned pennies.

Being that both artists play different styles of music, come from backgrounds that you might imagine are poles apart, what strikes you is the huge similarities in lyrical content and general thought process. Fat Mike singing “Thatcher Fucked The Kids” seems so natural and echoes such songs as NOFX’s “Fuck The Kids” and “What’s The Matter With Kids Today”; possibly the best choice (from a personal perspective) to end the first side was to cover the rarely played but utterly brilliant “Glory Hallelujah”.

For his part Frank Turner – and this is in no way detrimental to the first side – wins the battle; could this be down to the brilliance of Fat Mike’s lyrical prowess or Frank’s energetic deliverance? I’ll let you choose. 

Taking on a cover of “Scavenger Type” was probably brave, but it does kick us off wonderfully; the following sequence of “Bob” and “Eat The Meek” shows off how NOFX are sometimes boxed in by the pop-punk label, but have such a depth of thought.

“Perfect Government” is possibly the song on the album that shows how perfectly matched the two are. You would swear it was a Frank Turner song if you had no prior knowledge.

I’m not sure if this outstrips the Rancid split, but it certainly gives the songs a new life and definitely reignites some truly memorable moments from both sides.

NOFX vs Frank Turner’s West Coast Vs Wessex is available now on digital, CD and vinyl formats at Fat Wreck. Click here to visit the shop and make your selection.

What’s more: the two acts have announced dates for their Punk in Drublic Festival 2021 European Tour, which will unfold as follows:

May 13th, 2021, Chemillé, Théâtre Foirail à Chemille, France;
May 15th, Boom, De Schorre Open Air, Belgium;
May 16th, Berlin, Zitadelle, Germany;
May 21st, Wiesen, Wiesen Open Air, Austria;
May 23rd, Milan, Carroponte, Italy;
June 4th, Oberhausen, Turbinenhalle, Germany;
June 5th, Hannover, Faust Open Air, Germany;
June 10th, Turku, Vanha Surrtori 5, Finland;
June 12th, Oslo, Oslo Spektrum, Norway, and
June 13th, Malmö, Folkets Park, Sweden.

We’ve all missed the live circuit, get yourself out there; for more details, prices and availability, visit the Fat Wreck tour page here.

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