Comedy Rock Without the Comedy

Nerf Herder IV
Nerf Herder

By Kevin Gibson

I was saddened when I heard Nerf Herder had hung up its axes a few years back. Frontman Parry Gripp filled the void nicely with an irreverent solo effort (For Those About to Shop, I Salute You), but I still felt the longing for some loser-punk, Nerf Herder style.

Well, Nerf Herder is back and while this is far from their finest moment, it's good to hear the golf-shirt-wearing power trio can still rock with the best of them - even if they aren't quite up to their own standards on this comeback.

For the uninitiated, Nerf Herder might be described as the retarded love child of Weezer and Weird Al Yankovic but raised in a hick town in the 1980s that had way too many heavy metal radio stations. Gripp's sardonic ballads of being a loser, getting picked on by the cool guys, striking out with girls and being perverted and insecure are fun and often quite funny. The only problem here is that Nerf Herder (named for a line in "The Empire Strikes Back" - look it up) seems to be digging too much into its old bag of tricks, so there is very little new territory covered.

For instance, "Golf Shirt, Part II" is a sequel to the song "Golf Shirt" (duh) from the band's first album. It's a look at the same character a few years in the future. As you guessed, he is still a loser and still pining for the same girl, to no avail.

There are other references to the band's first album as well strewn throughout the album, from a mention of Haley Street to "Dianalee," which seems to be a reference to the song "Analee." I mean, it's cute once, but it gets old fast. It's almost a blatant admission that, well, there's just not much gas left in the tank.

Still, the album packs some fun, such as the hilarious, if somewhat obvious, "High School Reunion," and the tongue-in-cheek ode to classic rock, "Led Zeppelin Rules." Another highlight is "Garage Sale," which traces a former birthday gift to the garage sale of an old flame and the narrator's revelation that she meant way more to him than he ever meant to her culminates in "I found a birthday present for you / 25 cents at your garage sale."

But songs like "Me Oh My," while packing pleasing enough hooks and tight playing, just don't seem to have the same zeal as past Nerf Herder recordings. The whole thing plays out as a reaction to a girl who is pissed off and throwing a fit and mostly strings together a lot of clichéd phrases - and fairly mundane ones, at that. "

"That was very hard to find."

I can't even believe I'm spending so much time describing this song. Which really should bring this review to a close.

I'm glad Nerf Herder got together for an album and I'm hoping they will tour - but I'll be happier if they stick to playing the old stuff, at least until they can re-boot and generate some better material. I think Gripp has a few more good songs in him, to be quite honest.

Get more Nerf Herder at www.nerfherder.net.