Leftöver Crack – Constructs of the State (2015)
Fat Wreck Chords
I’ve never been a massive Leftöver Crack fan. Sure, they’ve got some awesome songs – “Gay Rude Boys Unite,” “Rock the 40 Oz.,” the under-appreciated pop gem “World War 4” – but nothing that really sucked me in for an entire album, from start to finish… on repeat… for days. Leftöver Crack’s third full-length Constructs of the State, however – their first since 2004 – is the real deal, showcasing a band at the height of its creative powers.
By now – from Choking Victim to Star Fucking Hipsters – frontman Scott “Stza” Sturgeon and his band of merry anarchists know exactly what works. They’ve developed, and refined, their own sound, and Constructs of the State dips into that back-catalogue with confidence and flair, cohesively swinging from straight-up anarcho-punk, to pop punk, ska, thrash metal and back again.
The songwriting’s accomplished and eclectic (eccentric, even). The production’s badass. And technically, it’s the best Leftöver Crack’s ever sounded. Stza’s vocal range is amazing. Even when it sounds like he’s singing through the side of a busted throat, there’s just so much melody and feeling in his voice – the result of screaming his lungs out for the past 26 years.
With former Intro5pect members Donny Morris (drums) and Chris Mann (guitar) on board, the drumming’s knuckle-tight and the riffs are perfect. There’s also an unshakable soulfulness that pulses from song to song – linked with secret interludes, banjos and epic gang intros. But most of all, Constructs of the State sounds intelligent, soaked in been-there-done-that, matter-of-fact sense of reflection.
“The Union Jack. On Shaka’s back. Zulus at dawn ah! Isandlwana!”
It’s one of those albums that sounds considered from every angle, agonized over for years and put together with blood, sweat, tears and hangovers. A place for everything, and everything in its place. “My only concern… was… it had to be as good as our first two full-length efforts. I wasn’t going to put a new record together until I felt like that standard was met,” explains Sturgeon. It might have taken him 11 years but he got there in the end (and then some).
Adding to the decade-long-wait celebration feel of the record, there’s a host of famous punk rock cameos as well. Most noticeably, perhaps, Operation Ivy frontman Jesse Michaels ignites the flames of nostalgia on ska-punk stomper “System Fucked.”
Mixing synths, gang vocals, mad punk-rock and metal into a foaming frenzy, “The War At Home,” an Intro5pect cover that Sturgeon sang on originally, is the perfect way to end things – and perhaps a taste of what’s to come in 2026.