The Bronx

The Bronx (IV)

Written by: AP on 09/02/2013 23:59:26

I've always thought that The Bronx is one of the most ironic band names in the world. Not only does the quintet come from Los Angeles, CA - their style of punk rock is also the near-polar opposite of the very serious brand of hardcore produced in New York, NY. Indeed, The Bronx has always been a band that can be relied on to offer a different perspective on the genre, and especially in this regard, their fourth eponymous album does not disappoint.

"The Bronx (IV)" is a collection of groovy, rock'n'roll influenced punk songs full of energy, drive and swagger. The most notable difference between this, and the band's previous outings, is that the influence of hardcore has been toned down significantly in favour of a more radio- and arena-friendly style. As a result, "The Bronx (IV)" is instantly more memorable than its predecessors, boasting hit after hit with only few misfires in between, meaning that the album is likely to attract a considerable amount of new fans, especially from the more mainstream corners of punk rock. The best part about all of this is, is that in the process of tweaking their sound for more widespread appeal, The Bronx haven't sacrificed any of their unique character, which stems from their adventurous tampering with the traditional punk rock and hardcore formulas. Take the opening track, "The Unholy Hand", for instance: it is remarkable how the band manages to turn something so ordinary into something extraordinary simply by removing the frills and appending short rock'n'roll guitar licks into the end of a chorus. This song epitomises the notion in the beginning of this paragraph, and sends my thoughts scurrying in a multitude of influential directions ranging from Fucked Up to the Ramones to Iggy Pop.

The song - essentially a summary of everything that makes "The Bronx (IV)" such a thrilling proposition in the punk rock market - makes for a fiery start to an album that, despite never dispensing cheap rewards, is extremely quick to reveal its lasting value. The following two tracks, "Along for the Ride" and "Style Over Everything" do little to dampen the impact; the former with an infatuating, "Saturday Superhouse"-esque (Biffy Clyro) rhythm, and the latter with a confronting urgency and an absolutely unforgettable gang-sung chorus of "This spirit world is upside down and inside out / I've come too far to look back now / I've style over everything, I've style over everyone". But while "Youth Wasted" immediately after sees The Bronx continue the impressive stride, the inevitable downside to such a strong, impactful start to the album is that the remainder of tracks have a hard time sounding as excellent.

They are not bad songs by any measure; both "Too Many Devils" and "Pilot Light" are likely to emerge as live staples, and have audiences revealing their wilder side in no time. The slower "Torches", a kind of bastardization of a ballad, is another pick that's constantly grasping at excellence without really getting there, yet despite paling in comparison to the opening quartet, it still carries enough memorabilia to be able to find a solid footing in most minds. The same is true of the other ballad, the more melancholic "Life Less Ordinary". But then, inspecting the album from bird's eye view as a complete entity, this might just be what's so enticing about "The Bronx (IV)": the singles are extremely strong, and the remainder of tracks adhere to a frightening consistency, thus both amplifying the standout moments and ensuring that during no passage of time does the record wind your attention down to a lull. There's such variety in rhythm and dynamics that such a lapse is nigh impossible - just listen to the fluctuations between "Torches", "Under the Rabbit" and "Ribcage".

Because the album carries this quality, it has taken me some time to grow to appreciate it in full, and not only by virtue of the singles. On past efforts, The Bronx have not accomplished this for me, with really only the thrilling "Knifeman" ringing strong bells in retrospect. Yet with "The Bronx (IV)", I find myself returning for its positivity, drive, and above all, energy. It's a strong, historically influenced album that deserves any punk rock aficionado's attention, regardless of the generation they swear by.


Download: The Unholy Hand, Style Over Everything, Youth Wasted, Torches
For the fans of: Blodig Alvor, Fucked Up, The Drips, The Ghost of a Thousand
Listen: Facebook

Release date 04.02.2013

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