The Falcon are a curious band: a collection of rogue Chicagoans (now with Dave Hause as well), lead vocalist Brendan Kelly (The Lawrence Arms) seems to get the most attention but teammates Dan Andriano (Alkaline Trio), Neil Hennessy (also The Lawrence Arms), and now Hause carry some impressive resumes on their own. It’s a loaded band, one that rips out punk burners in the 1-2 minute range with big choruses, crude metaphors, and something of a kitchen sink subgenre underbelly that bleeds into those songs. They also haven’t put out a record in about 10 years, so how does the reanimated band fare on Gather Up the Chaps?
A decade has passed, the Bush years are in the rearview and, soon, the Obama ones as well. Time changes things, but The Falcon are still dirty birdies playing songs that sound like R-rated jokes on the surface with a lot of gritty philosophy hidden between the crude one liners. The main difference on their second full-length is that things are tighter. Production is solid and equal across all 12 songs, and while the band likes to throw in a cornball melody, a ska-punk hook, or two-minute tongue twister, the songs are tighter than Unicornogrpahy—where those same elements were a big part of the process, but they were roughshod. Cleaning it up hasn’t compromised the sound, but instead pulls the album together as a whole. Unicornography was something of a singles collection, but this one is an album.
“Hasselhoff Cheeseburger” has Kelly spitting more lyrics than any 2-minute song should comprise, fast and syncopated to the point his enunciation is damn near percussive atop of Hennessy’s beats. “Sergio’s Here” is that bit o’ everything song that jumps into a straight-up third wave ska moment and shifts gears just as quickly, and both Hause and Andriano have their own moments on other tracks. Andriano sings lead on “You Dumb Dildos,” and the Hause fronted “If Dave Did It” makes me miss his former band The Loved Ones more than I remembered, showcasing a mastery of the whoa-oh in a way that it feels magically memorable instead of like a cheap earworm.
With The Lawrence Arms in slow mode, Alkaline Trio taking their time on projects as well, and Dave Hause seeming to always be doing something, The Falcon Round 2 is a bit more focused, less side project and more mainstage. More short, fast, loud, and always through Kelly’s smutty lens, it’s punk rock fury delivered with a wry and knowing smile.