The possibilities of storytelling within a rock-song format were explored on Breathless, the Jet Age's 2006 debut, but with their second album, the Washington, DC trio has created a full-fledged story that extends from every groove in the record and to every word in the lyrics. Whether it's a concept album, a rock opera, or the soundtrack to an imagined musical is mere pigeonholing; what's true is that the power-punk songs establish a thought-provoking and cohesive narrative, and whiplash drums, insistent bass, and spidery guitar tell the story with more shading and depth than a literal, staged production could ever manage.
What Did You Do During the War, Daddy? tells the story of a husband and father who becomes so disillusioned with the state of America that he joins an underground movement and becomes a suicide bomber. "It's an exploration of my very real concern that this country is no longer by or for the people, and that concern is greatly exacerbated by the fact that I've got a family," explains guitarist/vocalist Eric Tischler, who is also the band's chief songwriter. "Obviously, it's largely fictional in that I've never consorted with any revolutionary underground movement and I've never blown myself or anyone else up."
What makes the record work, though, is that you can take or leave the story altogether. First and foremost, it's a collection of great, energetic rock songs in the vein of the Who, Hüsker Dü, and the Clean. The conceptual theme actually streamlines the record, rather than capsizing it under the weight of its own pretension. As Tischler states, "I'm all about the songs, but how can a record that's greater than the sum of its parts not be even more valuable?
"It was important to me that the songs be able to stand alone," he continues, "Even 'False Idols,' which is the climax of the record, was initially written as a stand-alone song. However, you can expect us to play the whole damn record live, and to play it like our lives depend on it."