Review: The Inactivists

The War on Jazz Hands
CD + bonus download

“We’re envious of everyone who isn’t us,” proclaims The Inactivists on its new CD, The War on Jazz Hands, after name-dropping more commercially successful Denver bands like the Fray and Flobots. Of course, its comparative impact doesn’t really seem to bother the band all that much (aside from a bit of envy), especially since the five-piece is back with all its notorious calamity and sarcasm. While the songs on the disc navigate a variety of genres, they all have certain similarities: That is, they all seem to hatch a lyrical concept and then lock into some kind of groove, whether it's traditional pirate folk (in “Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash,” a name borrowed from the Pogues or Winston Churchill), American tavern funk* (“Press the Spacebar”), or space lounge (“I Fail at Life”). The CD’s titular song functions as a musical declaration of both its style (apparently The Inactivists are both a be-bop and hip-hop band, among other things), and its courageous battle against jazz hands. “You Give Me a Hard-On,” is a sinister ballad cover of a Little Fyodor track; it's about boners and everything boner-related. And then there’s “Vegan Zombies,” a fancy little number mocking vegan stereotypes (i.e. all non-meat eaters are hacky sac-playing dirty hippies with dreadlocks). The best thing about this release is that it has to be the only CD that comes with a free download of a whole other CD. And on the back cover there’s a “Nice Price” sticker, so you know it’s a bargain. With The War on Jazz Hands, The Inactivists are doing what it does best: Making provocative upbeat songs that separate those who have a sense of humor and like to have a good time from those who don’t.

*I just branded this genre. (Think pub rock but American and funk.)