Editor's Rating

Essential Less Than Jake Album, have a listen to 'Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts'

Rating out of 10

20 Years on: Less Than Jake – Losing Streak

Release Date: 12th November 1996

Capitol Records

Last night I read that Less Than Jake‘s ‘Losing Streak’ album had turned 20 years old. Who else suddenly felt a lot older than they are when discovering this news? Less Than Jake made a name for themselves towards the late 90s and early 2000s with hits like ‘All My Best Friends Are Metalheads’ and ‘Gainsville Rock City’. And when I think of third wave ska, there are two bands that come to mind instantly, Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake are the automatic go-to bands, the kings of ska punk.

But it’s earlier songs from their 1996 album, ‘Losing Streak’ that remain incredibly popular and featuring heavily on setlists today. Even with six studio albums worth of material and a large collection of EPs, b-sides that followed, the songs from ‘Losing Streak’ are pure crowd pleasers.

So what is it about these songs? After all, you can listen to this album now and realise it’s far from perfect in terms of production, some of the singing is off key and it’s completely raw. Far from the polished sounds from the likes of ‘Anthem’. You can picture the gritty bars and bowling alleys Less Than Jake were probably playing at the time of this release from hearing this album.

What makes these songs so popular is pure enjoyability, raw positive energy and talented musicianship. From the opener, ‘Automatic’, you are greeted with intricate basslines and infectious brass melodies that have now become iconic enough for many people to sing them live. It’s a song packed with moments that make you skank hard and rock out. For the most part ,this is a notion that flows relentlessly throughout ‘Losing Streak’.

The stand out song has to be ‘Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts’, even today it’s a song that makes my hairs stand on end and lose my shit when it’s performed. From the teasing ska rhythms along with the pulsing brass and beats in the intro, to the relentless punk rock verse and chorus that will create all kinds of pit carnage. Again the brass melodies stick out like a sore thumb in the best way. The chorus is so repetitive and catchy, it’s without a doubt one of the best songs the band have written in their long career.

Ignore the quality of recordings and judging from songwriting, ‘Losing Streak’ is an album with absolutely no filler, which is incredibly impressive with sixteen songs. Every song has the ability to be anthemic, making you want to dance and sing along and have a great time. ‘Sugar In Your Gas Tank’ is another stand out track for being a long time crowd favourite,  ‘How’s My Driving, Doug Hastings?’ has to go down as one of most joyful ska punk songs I’ve ever heard as well ‘Rock-n-Roll Pizzeria’, these are songs guaranteed to put a smile on your face. It was a massive step up from the previous year’s ‘Pezcore’ album.

‘Losing Streak’ paved the way for Less Than Jake to follow up with more incredible albums. ‘Hello Rockview’, ‘Borders & Boundaries’ and ‘Anthem’ may have launched the ska punks to phenomenal heights, and the band are now more recognised for iconic hits such as ‘The Science of Selling Yourself Short’ and ‘Look What Happened’. But, ‘Losing Streak’ will remain a cult favourite and a personal favourite of mine. I love that 20 years on, these songs still feature heavily in setlists.

For fans of: Reel Big Fish, Goldfinger, Mad Caddies

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