In case you’re missing the old Alkaline Trio, the East Bay’s Civil War Rust is calling your name. Not to say the band is strictly derivative of the Matt Skiba-fronted band, but they wear their influences on their sleeve and a number of the songs on The Fun and the Lonely not only recall Alk3’s punkier moments, even the vocal inflections resonate in that familiar timbre.
Civil War Rust sets themselves apart with a more driving, energetic take and amble dropping of gang choruses, giving the band a more positive feel that replaces the melancholy with a cathartic, communal essence in place. Still, the band pairs up numerous elements and it gets impossible not to think of influences in tracks like “Mayday” or “Hymns of the Canary,” the latter of which drops in a nice “back in ’98” lyric that gives a knowing reference. “Seven Down” is as good a reference point as any, with the lead vocals similarly inflected as Alkaline Trio, but at chorus-point, the drums pick up the momentum and the rest of the band fills in on vocals to convey the refrain. It changes to tone of the music and pulls in a new direction, but still not one entirely separated from its influence.
The record picks up when Civil War Rust manages more separation. They’ve made “You’ve Got a Friend” their own—sure, there are some clear turn of the millennia melodic punk nuances, but they’ve combined them into their own stew and it works. The varied guitar in the song works nicely to build energy and show what they’re capable of. There is an air of familiarity but not one that dominates the song. The same can be said of “Balloons & Bouquets” and “Legalized Romance” too, using the backing vocals a little more creatively and harmonizing in place of simple shout-alongs. It’s in these songs that the band shows their promise, with their own inflection and perspective that’s still well-versed in East Bay history. As a whole, The Fun and the Lonely is a solid listen and I’d definitely check them out if they share a bill with another band of interest, but it feels just a step away from really coming into their own yet.
7.0 / 10
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