311: Don’t Tread on Me

By Kelly Johnson

311 has made quite an audacious move on its eighth album, titling it, “Don’t Tread on Me.”

The historical Gadsden flag phrase is indicative of the struggles our American forefathers endured to begin a revolution and claim independence from Britain. Thus, we assume 311 is using the phrase to proclaim a similar stance on our current political climate, and will deliver an album filled with thought-provoking commentary, right?

Hardly. The opening title track uses the historical phrase as a response to vague criticism by stating “Don’t you tread on me/ Cuz I will knock you down.”

Fortunately for the title track, the reggae/tropical feel the band has used in past songs like “Amber” saves the listener from concentrating too much on the words. The subsequent, “Thank Your Lucky Stars” also succeeds as a harmless rock tune with a tried and true 311 groove to match its sing-along melodies.

Soon afterward, it appears the band forgot that when you have nothing to say, at least back it up with some hummable melodies. The band members certainly dropped the bomb on the abomination, “Solar Flare,” with trite political slogans like, “Why do we sit silent/ Numb to the violence/ We’re shooting up flares/ Does anyone care.” Sure, it’s commendable for a band to encourage political awareness, but 311 represents the ambiguous frustration of the uninformed population they decry. One thing is certain, however; the band definitely doesn’t like bombs or death.

“It’s Getting Ok Now” keeps the listener wincing, with lines, “There will come a time/ When I no longer am/ I will take my last breath/ And on that day/ I’ll be dying.” Generally most people don’t think that they will take their last breath on the day that they die.

It’s too bad the lyrical mishaps are glaring because 311 has shown in the past it can cover it up with some fun rock songs. But alas, “Don’t Tread on Me” leaves the listener down with the thought that the band is all mixed up and the disaster is anything but beautiful.