Captain, We're Sinking

The Future Is Cancelled

Written by: TL on 15/06/2013 16:29:05

A couple of years back, a punk-rock band with a name I didn't exactly find to be the most awesome, came along in my queue of promos and put a song in my head that I have not been able to get out since then. So when I learned earlier this year, that Scranton, Pennsylvania-based quartet Captain, We're Sinking was coming up with a sophomore record this year, I started looking forward to it with the kind of anticipation you have for small bands that you expect might be gearing up to take a leap.

To begin with, the core of the band's appeal comes from their being one of those bands that - while they're punk-rock with all this entails of raw vocals, fuzzy guitar distortion and minimalism in the production department, they're the sort of punk-rock band that insists on actually doing something with the genre. To hear what I mean, look no further than "The Future Is Cancelled"'s opening track "Adultery", which opens with a grinding, grungy verse that'll make you think you're in for a full album's worth of discord, yet soon flips not once but twice, into desperately sentimental melodies. It's probably the single most explosive song I've heard all year - a hell of an album opener - and its symptomatic of an album that's characterised by entropic chord-progressions and manic pace-changes that are wildly unpredictable.

While much and more could be made about Captain, We're Sinking's instrumental and compositional ventures down roads less travelled, its liveliness in this department is a force overshadowed still, by the two-throated vocal attack from singers Bob Barnett and Leo Vergnetti. Not so much because their gritty, top-of-the-lungs exchanges are that much different from the croons of contemporaries like The Menzingers or Off With Their Heads, but more because they sing with an unfiltered urgency that constantly sways over the borderline unpleasant, which will inevitably draw your attention to the lyrics in a search for what can be at the heart of these sounds of misery.

And in the lyrics you will find the jagged, fragmented frustrations of lives and loves and families that are not so much broken apart as they are broken irrepairably asunder. "Adultery" is merely the first in a line of stories of heartbreak (see also "A Bitter Divorce"), of having been disappointed so much by somebody that you want to "rip them apart, fix them again, bring them back, just to watch them die again" ("Beer Can"), of not knowing who you despise more, God or yourself ("Montreal", "Lake"), of turning to alcohol and pills as a coping strategy ("Brother", "Annina, We Will Miss You", "More Tequila, Less Joe", "You Have Flaws") and of simply being crushingly, mercilessly lonely ("The Future Is Cancelled").

With consistent attention to scream-along-able refrains, Captain, We're Sinking tell such stories with a complete disregard for comfortable distance, instead positioning the narration under the skin of characters that are cold and lonely and full of resentment - characters that have all but given up - thus immersing the listener in a consistently unnerving feeling of the whole record being anchored in something absolutely tragic having happened. An up-close feeling of desperation I haven't heard the like of since La Dispute's soul-wrenching "King Park".

In fact, the only critical perspective I can offer on "The Future Is Cancelled", is that despite the variations of depressions it deals with, it's a record without mood swings. It's completely, unblinkingly down-beat from end to end, dragging the listener violently through a soundscape that's a gutter of bitter, broken memories. Even on "Here's To Forever", the voice of the song expresses self-hate for having seemingly become numb to all the tragedy of the remaining tracks. As much as this might be an inherent weakness however, it is also the essential power of an album that seizes the listener in a way that instantly makes you feel like here's something you've got to listen to even though it hardly has any hopeful resolution in sight.


Download: Adultery; The Future Is Cancelled; More Tequila, Less Joe
For The Fans Of: The Menzingers, Off With Their Heads, Tigers Jaw, Titus Andronicus

Release Date 14.05.2013
Kind Of Like / Evil Weevil / Kiss Of Death / Lock and Key Collective / Run For Cover

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