With Help Wanted, California’s Civil War Rust aren’t inventing any new sounds but they’re delivering heartfelt, direct punk rock in a familiar and comforting tone. It leans more toward the introspective and personal, pop-structured and relatively clean in production while letting the energy and emotion carry the tunes. I made a repeated (early period) Alkaline Trio comparison when I reviewed The Fun and the Lonely, and that influence is still worn on their sleeve with their return, Help Wanted.
The record is 10 songs and 23 minutes, straight forward and to the point. The lyrics, for the most part, explore emotional recovery: finding comfort and motivation amid troubles and break-ups. “You’ve got me upside down and falling apart” is a refrain in “Upside Down” while other lyrical snippets talk of recharging with beaches and beers. Their outlook is pretty well summed up in a later line on the album: “It’s okay to hurt sometimes/ That’s how you know you’re still alive,” which opens the song “Cart Cards and Broken Hearts.”
At other times, it takes a page out of Alk3’s tendency toward melodrama, like the line “I’m followed around by little black clouds/ relieving themselves on my every move” in “Photographs.” While the words sometimes take a dark turn, the harmonies and upbeat tempo present a sunnier picture, like the harsh lyricism of album closer and one of the standout songs, “Revenge Therapy.”
As the lyrics stride down the walkways of urban life in one’s 20s, with some mic hand-offs here and there, the music is also moving forward and driving. It’s fairly predictable and is built around the plentiful hooks and an emphasis on the lyrics.
I’m not sure that Civil War Rust are doing anything new on Help Wanted but I’m not sure that’s always necessary either. The record is a half-hour (ish) of emotional release that alternately bonds over life’s downer moments but brings listener and band together in celebration of conquest before, ultimately, moving on.
7.0 / 10
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