Pop structures with gruff vocals?
Group singalongs at the chorus?
A lyrical focus on being lost in the world while simultaneously abusing alcohol semi-therapeutically?
There’s definitely a format at play for Elway, the Colorado band who just issued their debut on Red Scare Industries. Say what you will about the whole “beard punk” sub-subgenre, but I’m a sucker for it and Elway are more hit than miss at the formula. While a play through Delusions will definitely bring other bands to mind—Banner Pilot, Lawrence Arms, and most of the city of Gainesville—it’s well executed, well put together, and it packs an emotional punch that doesn’t detract from the energy.
The band mixes up tempos with driving, Hot Water Music-inspired build-up and soul-baring shouts more than they utilize repetitive Ramones-derived structures. The most familiarity tends to come from guitarist/singer Tim Browne, who has a tendency to enunciate similar to Chris McCaughan of The Lawrence Arms, giving a dramatic waver to his delivery over the music’s energetic punch. It works well with the music, but it can become difficult at time to overlook the similarities in style.
The record starts slowly, building the energy with the slow paced “3/4 Eleanor” and the mid-tempo “Passing Days” before upping the speed. Group singalongs dominate “Whispers in a Shot Glass”, “It’s Alive!”, and “San Mateo,” giving the band a slight Dear Landlord turn, but Browne’s lead vocals always remain focused on the gut-wrenching, soul-baring style of tormented scream that gives a very personal feel, even while the content is more sociologically than personally focused.
Overall, the record is mostly mid-tempo punk with emotive vocals and big choruses where the guitars pick up and the singalongs kick in. There’s a strong similarity to McCaughan’s Lawrence Arms songs, and it’s no surprise that Matt Allison turned the knobs on this release (Alkaline Trio, Lawrence Arms, Less Than Jake, Smoke or Fire). While the record feels derivative of its influences, it stands up as a solid listen with the potential to be a grower as it gains familiarity. Musically the record shows a wide range, all pulled together with a clear identity. For a young band releasing their first record, it’s a promising sign and fans of the aforementioned bands should dig this without question.
7.2 / 10
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