Review Summary: Shine bright baby, shine bright.7 of 7 thought this review was well written
Being one of the hardest working bands in Australia’s thriving hardcore scene, it’s hard to be critical of Break Even. Having tragically lost a member in late 2008, the remaining members of the band wrote their debut album The Bright Side
in early 2009, and released it in June of the same year. For a band whose future was in doubt, it was a stunning statement of intent and received much praise within the Australian music community.
Musically, it’s easy to see how Break Even have been affected by their peers. With a slow-burning intensity reminiscent of bands like Modern Life Is War and Defeater, they work their way through 12 tracks of tightly restrained hardcore. The guitar work on The Bright Side
is focused more on the subtle and melodic than the flashy and thrashy, whilst the bass and drums constantly pulse beneath every facet of the album, occasionally bursting out for a catchy-as-hell breakdown or sing-along chorus (“Trouble Maker” being a perfect example). Vocalist Mark Bawden however, is what really separates Break Even from a lot of other hardcore bands around. His vocals are as passionate as they are sincere, and with the lyrical themes on this album, his sincerity is absolutely necessary.
It’s obvious the impact that the suicide of guitarist Rowan Willoughby has had on this record, and this is brutally evident in the lyrics. From “Heart Shape House” where the song moves from ‘on the outside / everything looked fine / on the inside / he was all alone’ to the proclamation that ‘love doesn’t live here anymore’, to the album closer “November 18th” which starts with ‘to the world you were just a person / but to us, you were our world’, there is a palpable feeling of sadness and regret. That’s not to say the album isn’t uplifting however (what hardcore album isn’t?) but it’s uplifting in a refreshingly honest way, and this is what makes Break Even so good at what they do. Their messages never sound contrived or fake, and with every drum fill, guitar lick and yell of ‘shine bright baby, shine bright’, it’s obvious that The Bright Side
wears its heart on its sleeve, and that, at the end of the day, is exactly what hardcore is all about.