Review – “Shit Sucks” – B.A. Johnston

shit sucksreviewed by Michael Thomas

As put more eloquently previously, B.A. Johnston is a Canadian icon. His vast discography attests to the Canada we all know and can relate to, but never hear about in song form. Sure, we all know about heartaches and devastating breakups, but we also know the perks of being a couch potato, the evils of cats, where all the jobs are and the merits of having an entire pizza to oneself.

Shit Sucks is B.A. Johnston as he was and as he always will be, and really, he doesn’t need to change up his formula because the songs speak for themselves. Quick guitar strummers, 80s-esque backing tracks, you’ll hear plenty of ’em here. This time around he teamed up with Mike O’Neill of the Inbreds and former co-conspirator Laura Peek for a new batch of 19 songs.

Johnston’s genius is that while many of his songs are hilarious (songs like “What a Wonderfully Mediocre Day” and “Drinking On My Mom’s Dime” are anthems in and of themselves) he also balances that with a few songs with sweet sentiments attached. “I Want to Love You But I am Too Dumb” is a song about just that, made all the more sweet by the little synth notes and a slightly softer delivery.

Johnston is at his bounciest with songs like “Couch Potato Alright,” a testament to laziness. Lyrics like “Not gonna shovel the driveway, so much snow, God must have wanted it that way” are almost the exact thoughts we’ve had at one point or another. “Gonna End Up Working in Fort McMurray” is a song about the city where the money is, and all the lifestyle adjustments that would entail.

There’s also plenty of good laments; “I Don’t Wanna Go to No Frills” details the pains of the cheap grocery store, from the early Lord of the Flies simile to the asshole who abuses the express line. “The Commute” musically captures the twilight drive on the highway that slowly drives you crazy. “The Ballad of Wheels” is a sad, banjo-tinged ode to Degrassi kid Neil Hope.

There’s also a couple of songs on getting older; “I Remember Skinny Jeans the Last Time Around,” in all its synthy glory, looks with scorn on the younger generation. Perhaps no phrase is more biting than “I do not give a shit about the shit that you give a shit about.” And “Old and Lame” looks fondly back on the stupid shit we did as teenagers.

Shit Sucks may be a bleaker summation of life than Johnston’s previous albums have suggested but it’s no less poignant. B.A. will continue to remain in our hearts forever.

Top Tracks: “Gonna End Up Working in Fort McMurray”; “I Want to Love You But I am Too Stupid; “Shitty Cat”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) +*swoop*

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