Even with a name like Capitalist Kids, the Austin band has always been more about love songs in the vein of Mr. T Experience and Lookout Records before hitting the political sauce. Well, the Drumpf era has hit us all in undeniable ways. Brand Damage is the band’s fourth full-length and here, relationships fall apart and the rivers of political frustration are overflowing.
While previous records celebrates the joys of courtship and love with a few political songs scattered in between, Brand Damage is more of a downer. Even though the group plays upbeat power-pop-punk, the lyrics here are full-on bummers. It opens with “More Dreams Than Plans,” about a struggling marriage, and hits home later on the notably titled “I’ve Got Nobody 2 Luv.” Both songs fit the band’s standard of driving and uplifting pop-punk about relationships, but on disc #4 the relationship has gone sour and the narrator is seeking answers—until the last track, “Bye,” where it comes to a final close.
Elsewhere, the national political environment inspires topics from women’s rights, immigration and the super direct “Alternative Facts.” This time around, the record is probably 50/50 love and politics. The lyrical point of view is personal and to the point, with a storytelling delivery to share points and ideas.
Throughout, the vocals utilize full sentences that flow into unique, wordy melodies is that distinguish the band from their peers in the Ramones-core scene. The songs are fluid and emotional, even a bit sappy at times, but with a quick pulse that gets the emotions out of the way before they oversaturate. The whole record is only 21 minutes long, and it’s about the right length for this style.
Brand Damage is an album for 2017. While I find Capitalist Kids’ catalogue to be feel-good music for times I need a pick me up, this record captures all of the swarming confusion and pain of the world today—but still through their unique lens. While the band itself is as peppy and pushing-forward as ever, and the songwriting remains solid as expected, the post break-up content and political sound bites seem to wallow in the pessimism instead of offering respite.
7.0 / 10
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