Los Angeles based The Bronx release their fifth studio album, entitled V this week. The first taste of the album; the frantic ‘Sore Throat’ was given the video treatment on YouTube and gives old school fans exactly what they have been wanting since 2013’s IV. Singer Matt Caughthran may have gotten older, but the barb on his tongue is still sharp. Lyrics like “suck out the poison, savour the taste” keeps the hardcore punk attitude at the forefront of this track. Belters like this are meant to be played loud and fast, it should absolutely be added to the live set-list.
Some of the other tracks on the album delve further down the rock path their last album put them on to. The albums producer, Rob Schnapf has worked with artists such as Beck, Elliot Smith and The Vines. It seems like his influence has slowed the pace down on some of the album. Some of the tracks could have been performed by other bands and you wouldn’t notice they were supposed to be Bronx tunes. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there seems a lack of identity to a few of the songs.
When the band get back to their hardcore roots however, the album seems to ramp up a bit. The opening track of the album ‘Night Drop at the Glue Factory” could have been a bonus track from III, the head bouncing guitar riff and Caughthran’s growl being unmistakable Bronx. It’s a shame there aren’t too many more tracks like this here.
The album feels like it’s pulling in two directions. The gentler, more experimental side shown in parts of IV, and the harsh gritty reality in earlier albums. As the chorus on ‘Side Effects’ says, “If I fall asleep tonight, I will dream in black and white” - the dream might be more welcoming after one or two more listens, but the ice cold bucket of water that hits you from some of the more colourful tracks on the album is definitely preferred.