LA quintet the Bronx have made a powerful return from their mariachi outings with The Bronx (IV). Bronx purists will rejoice to hear that their newest effort is full of kicking punk tunes that nod to the melodic, upbeat rock of the eighties.
The songs are no epic anthems–most clock in at under three minutes, the longest tune being just over four minutes long–but their brevity adds to the charm. A grated electric guitar starts off the album with the catchy “The Unholy Hand,” over which singer Matt Caughthran yelps working-class lyrics. His vocals fit well over the bouncy background, borrowing the tones of Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance and Bon Scott from AC/DC. The noisy “Youth Wasted” finds the band wandering into School of Rock-type music, while keeping a punk ethos. “Torches” is a foot-stomping, percussion-driven beater whose chorus could almost pass for a breakdown with its half-time drums and head-banging feel. Caughthran sings honestly, “You cannot change the life you’re born to live” during the outro, and the vulnerability can be felt in his raw shout.
The Bronx aren’t afraid to explore more gentle territory, as songs like “Life Less Ordinary” show, with an intro that could pass for a Young the Giant song and bluesy vocals. “Ribcage” opens with a guitar riff that could be played as the beginning of a surfing outage, backed by absolutely pumping drums. Caughthran sticks to a simple, high-pitched vocal line during the chorus (as in “Youth Wasted”), which suits him well.
Some points during the record sound a bit cliche, but the Bronx mean what they say. Almost every intro is a solo electric guitar strumming evenly, and almost every chorus consists of thick chords with an octave melody decorating the musical cake. Their influences are interesting–the intro of “Style Over Everything” resembles “When You Were Young” by the Killers, while “Pilot Light” has a bit of hardcore flavoring. Even so, the band stick to roughly the same formula, and while it’s not intensely original, it doesn’t fail them, either.
The Bronx are out to revive the punk music of the old days, and this album does so with a punch to the face of radio hits. Their lyrics are inspired by the streets, which is where one can envision them playing. The band are more likely to play a backyard show in the ghetto than a festival, though their popularity landed them on Warped Tour. The Bronx (IV) is a ruckus of a response to modern music that will land on the iPod of anyone who misses the halcyon days of blue-collar rock.
MP3: The Bronx “The Unholy Hand”
Buy: iTunes or Insound! vinyl