I’ve been thinking about the end of the world a lot lately. Wouldn’t it be nice if aliens came and just took us away from the soulless politicians, skeevy predators, and all the natural disasters? Even if these extraterrestrials zapped us all with their ray guns, it would at least be less painful than the current state of things. Plan 37s Say Goodbye is a sci-fi-tinged punk rock piece that loosely hangs on this idea.
When the album starts the green slimy bastards are coming to get us, and by the end we are never to be heard from again. This isn’t a ham-fisted rock opera though. These are blistering songs of self-doubt, doomed relationships, and the fear of growing up masked by the band’s devout understanding of pop culture. If you’re that guy who connects with people over the minute details of every original Star Trek episode, then this is for you!
Say Goodbye sounds like Rancid’s …And Out Come the Wolves if it were recorded by a bunch of nerds. Lead vocalist B’xc’r Sh’onn could easily cover for Rancid singer Tim Armstrong, and no one would notice the difference. I mean all of this as a compliment because not only does Say Goodbye reach the heights of Rancid’s 90’s masterpiece, but in terms of lyrical intelligence, at times it might even be better. The alien concept is really just the two slices of bread. What makes this record delicious is everything in between. It’s all about the songs on this one. If it wasn’t, the climactic ending of being taken away forever wouldn’t feel earned.
The biggest earworm is “Red Shirt.” The singer warns a girl not to get into a relationship with him because he’s a redshirt, meaning (like on Star Trek) he is doomed to die an early death. What makes the track brilliant is that this can be taken literally if we’re to believe that aliens are indeed coming or that the singer is using it as a lame comparison to how quickly their relationship will sour. The album is full of stuff like this even though it will take you multiple listens to catch all these quirky subtleties.
My favourite track by far is “Shockmaster.” Not being a huge wrestling fan, I had no idea that this is an exact retelling of one the biggest blunders in live wrestling history. I’ll spare you the details, as you NEED to watch the video, but basically a wrestler stupidly named The Shockmaster was supposed to break through a wall as an introduction to adoring fans everywhere. Instead, he tripped and fell on his face on live television! What makes this high-quality song-writing is that the band applies this incident to universal feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment and failure. Everyone has felt like The Shockmaster at one point, although I’d like to think that NO ONE would have the same lack of fashion sense.
The closer “Say Goodbye” is really responsible for selling the whole concept. Even though we could interpret it as the final adios before being taken into the alien spaceship, the line “I don’t believe in God, so you’ll never see me again” makes me believe that this is really about accepting death with grace. The aliens were just another pop-culture reference– another beautiful distraction. Don’t be bummed because this is still a really fun album that doesn’t take itself too seriously. You want proof? Stick around for the secret track to hear recording bloopers, hilariously off-key yodeling and a whopping 27 F-bombs. If there are any aliens, it’s these guys and God bless em’ for it.
Written by Shawn Thicke
*edited by Lia Davis