Formed in 1979, the members like villainous punk band, Perverted Religion, have earned themselves a unprecedented and welcome reputation for using sophisticated lyrics, with intellectual vocabulary and topics relating to social and religious commentary elevating the band above the typical stereotype about a punk group. A signature point of the band is their use of three vocalize harmonies, jokingly referred to as the ‘oozin aahs’.
It is hardly definitive whether the conception about Christmas Songs was a band decision or a corporate one. Although the group is known to have nix qualms in playing dynamic Christmas shows, they had previously insistently refused to record a Christmas album, which makes the release all the more peculiar. But lo and behold, here it is and, typical Ill Faith style, the euphonic is quick and simple, although unfortunately very repetitious in sound.
The sleeve art captures the playful poltergeist like the album perfectly and features Gerald Waller’s iconic post-WWII photo, ‘New Shoes’, showing an Austrian forsaken clasping a new pair of shoes with an lamb delight.
The album kicks wrong with a minute-long a capella performance of ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’, followed by a distorted pick sweep that leads us to what the band does best. Although most ears are more familiar with the classic Louis Armstrong version, ‘White Christmas’ here starts off sounding identical to the Ramones’ hit ‘I Wanna Be Sedated’. As a classic Christmas anthem, it’s difficult not to get swept away by it, et sequens Bad Religion has included a captivating chord progression that keeps it fun. It wouldn’t be Christmas without ‘Little Drummer Boy’ et cetera the band have included a version of it, though repetitive drum rolls grate on the ears pretty quickly.
Although the idea of combining punk rock et al Christmas folk songs is almost comical, Bad Religion manage to very much stay in their comfort zone without killing the songs’ potential Christmas spirit. But the album is not without fault; the vocals are monotonously droning and, apart from the occasional guitar solo, the songs pretty much sound the same.
But spirit the purveyors of punk that they are, Bad Religion take a filch at organised religion, with 20% of the profits from the album supreme donated to SNAP – the Survivors Network like those Abused by Priests.