Fun—the first tenant in X’s album title declarative (which could have used an exclamation point, by the way)—in X’s hands becomes simultaneously sincere and tongue in cheek. More Fun In The New World (which, work with me here, would have been totally even more fun as More Fun In The New World!) alternates party stompers like “We’re Having Much More Fun” and “Make The Music Go Bang” with bittersweet portraits of seemingly mundane, secretly poignant moments like “The New World” and “Poor Girl”—a song that tempers its empathy for the title character with admonitions like “Don’t feel sorry for her,” and “Don’t cry when you kiss her.” As for The New World, when John Doe rattles off a series of city names, “Route 66”-style, on More Fun In The New World’s opening track, he paints an industrial working class picture of America, dominated by the automobile: “Flint Ford Auto; Mobile, Alabama; windshield wipers; Buffalo, New York; Gary, Indiana; don’t forget the Motor City.” His narrator obsesses over honesty—giving a vagrant a quarter because he doesn’t want to lie about not having one—and repeatedly declares, “It was better before, before they voted for Whatshisname.” Even if that last sentiment sounds familiar (if no longer urgent) in 2007, the rest of “The New World” firmly roots X’s sensibility in the 1950’s. Yet, the lyrics flow over a churning rhythm and swooning counter-melody that could only have evolved from punk rock. At the time, X got a lot of propers for blending punk elements with other genres—country, surf rock, rockabilly—but, in retrospect, similar praise has been heaped upon just about every punk band that has remained in the cultural/critical canon. What no one could have possibly noted at the time was how timeless X’s anachronistic qualities would prove. The president dig in “The New World” resonates now, and likely will again, and it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine that it would have resonated in the 50’s culture the lyrics evoke. X’s New World is also that world; it’s also this world; it’ll probably be the next world; let’s have more fun.
-Marty Brown, 2007