Review
Neighborhood Brats
Confines of Life

Dirt Cult (2021) Loren

Neighborhood Brats – Confines of Life cover artwork
Neighborhood Brats – Confines of Life — Dirt Cult, 2021

Neighborhood Brats play punk as you’d expect it to sound – regardless of year or era. It’s angry, aggressive and timeless. A review doesn’t require hyphens and subcategories. But while they’re easy to pin into a genre, they remain full of surprises, which is exceedingly rare. For every political lyric, fist punch in the air and shout-along moment, there’s a parallel left turn. For example, while it’s the band’s third LP and fans won’t be surprised at the general sound of Confines of Life, when the record hits the instrumental surf track “All Nazis Must Die,” there’s a “whoa, didn’t see that coming…oh, but it makes sense” moment.

Let’s also use that song title to talk about what the band and sound is. It’s blunt. It’s forceful. It’s unrepentant. Fittingly, that means it’s driving and energetic, memorable and often sing-along. Yet, they mix it up nicely within those confines. The very first song, “Who Took The Rain,” is a mid-tempo tune with eerie 1980s tones and, right after it, the lead to “Signs and Semantics” opens with a similarly spooky tone before the drums kick things up a few gears, maintaining a heavy tempo more or less until the end of the LP, but with those turns along the way – like the hardcore-style breakdowns in “Miss American Pageant,” surf tones and sometimes super-fluid sung melodies, sometimes shouted gang vocals. The group has a knack for knowing when to shift gears with a tempo change, unique bridge, or tonal shift without making it jarring. Overall, it’s guitar-driven punk that’s angry and bold, but tastefully sensitive too.

It’s political punk. It’s energetic, even infectious (pardon the word choice in a post-pandemic world). It sounds fun and gets your toes tapping, all-the-while the lyrics are about serious, heavy and pissed off stuff. To lift a line from “Who Took The Rain,” it’s about standing on the edge of darkness and light. It’s exactly what you should want in a record if you say you’re a fan of punk music.

8.5 / 10Loren • June 8, 2021

Neighborhood Brats – Confines of Life cover artwork
Neighborhood Brats – Confines of Life — Dirt Cult, 2021

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