Jawbreaker’s third album came out in February 1994, exactly one week after their fellow Bay Area punk-scene mates Green Day released their own third album, Dookie. And as the latter record began to move millions of copies, transforming Californian pop-punk into the new grunge overnight, all eyes were on Jawbreaker—who’d just opened for Nirvana—to make a similar leap. Listening to 24 Hour Revenge Therapy, it’s easy to understand why: This album is absolutely stacked with revved-up, raised-fist, generational anthems meant to be shouted out by the sweatiest of mosh pits.
But Jawbreaker frontman Blake Schwarzenbach’s mind was also preoccupied with the militant politics of the San Francisco DIY community. Because of that, he cut straight to the heart of every punk band’s existential quandary: the eternal struggle between empowered self-determinism and the pressure to fall in line with scene groupthink. At a time when even entertaining the thought of signing to a major label was enough to get you canceled by Maximum Rock N Roll readers, satirical salvos like “Indictment” and “Boxcar” suggested that selling out might be the most subversive, non-conformist action a punk band could take. But beyond these critiques, songs like “Condition Oakland” and “Ache” find Schwarzenbach expressing quarter-life-crisis disillusionment in increasingly poetic terms. Steve Albini’s raw production and Schwarzenbach’s authentically ravaged voice, still bearing the after-effects of polyps-removal surgery, probably kept 24 Hour Revenge Therapy from racking up Dookie numbers. But a quick survey of 21st-century indie rock—be it Jimmy Eat World, The Hold Steady, Japandroids, or PUP—reveals a lasting influence that’s no less profound.