True Brew

Written by: AP on 11/05/2015 22:37:14

Writing songs that require just the one listen to be remembered is Millencolin's forte. Yet not since the millennial "Pennybridge Pioneers" have the Swedish skate punks managed to add to the tracks that extra push needed to mark them as extraordinary with any real consistency. The three full-lengths (2002's "Home from Home", 2005's "Kingwood" and 2008's disappointing "Machine 15") and one compilation album ("The Melancholy Connection") that succeeded that seminal LP could deliver such revelations only in fragments, and as such, it seemed rather promising when, earlier this year, Millencolin announced that their first studio record in seven years, "True Brew", would be a slight return to their roots.

Fans anticipating a throwback to what most people consider to be Millencolin's best album to date, 1995's "Life on a Plate", will however find themselves betrayed upon learning that the mature, melancholy punk rock approach the quintet has been cultivating for the past decade and a half, still lingers firmly at the core. Whether for better or for worse, is of course a matter of taste, not to mention heavily dependent on the person in question's point of entry into the Millencolin fanbase. But few can deny it is becoming a frustrating tradition to discover morsels of brilliance peppered across the band's efforts, only to have their impact reduced by an assortment of anonymous, even subpar pieces. Fortunately, the outlook on this eighth album is much less dire than prophesised, with the majority of "True Brew" delivering the best material Millencolin have written since the turn of the century.

In fact, the first single and consummate highlight "Sense & Sensibility" slots itself next to the very best from the quartet's entire repertoire. Storming in with urgency at the crest of a signature Millencolin-lead, the song's three-way marriage of a melancholy tone, sharp lyrics and an unforgettable chorus borders on the perfect. By angling his rhetoric toward the bigotry and racism resurgent in the contemporary world and twisting the words into indelible verse and chorus, vocalist/bassist Nicola Sarcevic underlines the relevance of the band in today's punk scene and reminds us that when it comes to writing a catchy punk tune, few do it better than he and his colleagues, guitarists Mathias Färm & Erik Ohlsson, and drummer Fredrik Larzon:

I've got ideas how this planet works. It gives perspective on all the racist jerks. Like in the end, they shed imbalance to everything we know. Some brains are fast means that some brains are slow. This is the rational side of me I guess, the sense they barely use when playing chess. Luck's in the end, I know there's also the other side of me, and to me, it's an emotional sensibility. And that's the side of me I turn to when I read about the world. Well, that's not my cup of tea. Yeah, it's the side of me I take that tells me you've got it all wrong. Well, how clearly we disagree. You're just a racist clown to me.

Before reaching as far however, both "Egocentric Man" and "Chameleon" deliver convincing reasons to keep the disc spinning, first via somber methods of the band's past, and since by delving into the more uplifting style heard on "Home from Home". Elsewhere, the title track provides ample proof to the naysayers that just because the tempo is slower, the song is not per definition worse. Its danceable rhythm is sure to make the song a live staple, and the empowering, rebellious chorus is destined to be sung back in full volume at venues across the world:

I don't wanna live my life doing stuff I don't like to do - I just wanna spend my time on creating something true! I don't wanna live my life just pretending what I'm not - I just wanna spend my time living my life on the spot!

The record does of course include a solid helping of questionable ideas as well, some of which I will readily admit is dangerously close to filler ("Wall of Doubt" and "Something I Would Die For" in particular come to mind in the latter category). But unlike on the last four records Millencolin have birthed, the memorabilia here weighs heavier and the bottom level is generally higher, with "Perfection is Boring", "Silent Suicide" and "Mr. Fake Believe" - the last of which of course pays tribute to the classic "Mr. Clean" in both name and sound - rounding off a sturdy parade of anthemic punk rock songs. None of it is groundbreaking on par with "Life on a Plate" or "Pennybridge Pioneers", but ignoring the handful of misfires, you'd be foolish to accuse Millencolin of having conceived anything resembling a disaster here. "True Brew" may not pack the punch necessary to restore the band's golden era, but it nonetheless delivers a sufficiently entertaining package to keep the pitchforks at bay, and all but the most devout and retro-gazing members of Millencolin's fanbase satisfied.


Download: Egocentric Man, Sense & Sensibility, True Brew, Silent Suicide, Mr. Fake Believe
For the fans of: Lagwagon, No Use For A Name, Satanic Surfers
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Release date 27.04.2015
Epitaph Records

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