Reviews The Brokedowns Life Is a Breeze

The Brokedowns

Life Is a Breeze

The Brokedowns have come a long way. That’s not to say they were torchbearers of suckitude earlier, but early reviews of the band were festivals of namedropping and comparisons to various Midwestern-tinged punk groups. On Life Is A Breeze, those RIYL days of yore can go straight into the Springfield tire fire: The Brokedowns have their own sound and it’s alternatingly angry and melodic, blistering and unpredictable.

While they are a good fit with Chicago-based label Red Scare Industries, The Brokedowns have a heavier edge than the pop-punk the label tends to work with. The vocals are most always gruff and shouted, regardless of the singer, and the bass tends to lead the rough and pounding aggression while the guitars and backing vocals come in with melody. “The Gospel of Mustafa” is as good a starting point as any for their style. The vocals are shouted, with backing vocals coming in an equally hoarse manner that provides melody but without any sugar to it. The structure is familiar enough to let your voice go AWOL in singing along, but it avoids the trappings of genre-based writing, eschewing easy choruses and pogo-happy hooks. Vocalists Jon and Kris aren’t just singing themselves hoarse, they play ‘til their fingers bleed, running the tempo upward more often than down, though they catch a few breathers with some breakdowns in “Life Is a Breeze” and the stoner punk of “The End Is Not Near.”

While it’s fast, short, and bursting with aggression, the melody shines on a few songs here. The 53-second “Everything Is Immoral” is the cleanest harmony since their early days, and “Life Is A Breeze” offers some less coarse vocal work as well. The group singing of “Murder Junkie/CPA” is another pop-fuelled jam that is, again, easy to follow, but hard to summarize with the usual power chord-themed descriptions. At their cleaner moments the comparisons are apt with other Red Scare or Midwest poppy stuff, but heavier elements often come in at an even 50-50 balance that makes those namedrops inaccurate and harder to typecast. Pile some short/loud/fast’n’proud ‘90s hardcore into the equation, an experimental bent (such as with “Cash for Gold” or “A Child’s Guide to Black Metal”), and the occasional reach-for-the-epic (“DIY Space Program”) and the Brokedowns are a band unto themselves.

8.5 / 10Loren
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Red Scare

2014

8.5 / 10

8.5 / 10

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