Review Summary: Comeback Kid plead for your attention.
Beggars are quite the annoyance aren’t they? They plead and whine and do nothing of interest, and with all their efforts all they accomplish is getting you to acknowledge their existence before further ignorance. Comeback Kid releases a record that begs and somehow avoids these plights. Yes, they’re still the same band releasing the same polished material that makes you question their alliance to the hardcore regime, but they’ve come equipped with a special oomph on Symptoms + Cures
. Somewhere between the abrasive opener “Do Yourself A Favor” and the salivating closer “Pull Back the Reins” Comeback Kid have successfully introduced a slick styling to their once tottered sound. Pile the credit onto Andrew Neufeld who’s bound miles ahead of Broadcasting
. I’d like to think a majority of this progression is due to his phenomenal side project Sights and Sounds
, which if you haven’t checked out yet I urge you to stop reading and do so as it was the best post-hardcore release of 2009. Neufeld delivers a vocal performance that for once doesn’t reduce his vocals to a whiny adolescent but instead comes across as a pissed off man. Still there are a few quips that Comeback Kid will need to iron out before they make you want
to pay attention.
Now it’s about time that Comeback Kid learn that melody best accompanies their sound. Neufeld obviously does, elongating the notes in several of his yells which transition beautifully into energetic choruses. This is that oomph I was speaking of earlier. Tracks like “Because of All the Things You Say” benefit from lines like “I’m passive aggressive / Because of all the things I couldn’t say to youuuuuu” which provide time for the instruments to build their eclectic bridges. I usually harp on instances where the band opts for melody over chaos in a reach for mainstream appeal, but Comeback Kid has found an elegant balance that doesn’t counteract their aggression in the slightest. Again this credit goes to Neufeld whose raw approach satisfies both faces of the record – the melody and the hostility. The title track executes this best. In between the ill-fated breakdowns there’s some great vocal work to be heard, still it’s quite a shame that the band still haven’t improved on the one component that would make their music more reverent.
Often times the band just isn’t as heavy as they think they are. Much of their aggression feels alleviated and accessible when it should be hardened and acute. I know I’ve been one to make quite the scene over breakdowns, but when used in moderation and performed with bite they excel the music beyond its limits. Comeback Kid haven’t honed in on this aspect. Too many times they rely on palm muted riffs to reiterate that they’re in a breakdown (“Manifest”); this is the equivalent to a vocalist signaling “Let’s Go!” before the moment’s time. Along with their breakdowns comes an interesting love with simmering their instruments heaviest occasions. “GM Vincent & I” opens with a brute end bass lead before speeding off into typical punk territory erasing their practice of heavy handed hardcore, spending the bands worth before they’ve gained enough investment in the track. This wouldn’t be a problem if Neufeld didn’t give the feeling of wanting to be a brutal ensemble only to hear the rest of band contempt with satiating an expectation of practical punk rock. However there are times when they hit the mark, and when they do you wish they’d reveal this side more often. Album closer “Pull Back the Reins” is punishing with a hammering riff and one of the albums more memorable drumming features. It’s here where Comeback Kid displays competence thinking with talent rather than whatever it was that made them create the hit and mostly miss “Balance”.
In the end Comeback Kid holds nothing back with Symptoms + Cures
. This may be the most unfortunate characteristic in regard. It seems this album musters everything that the band has to offer, which in all seriousness, is nothing remarkable. Symptoms + Cures
includes some of their best material, and Neufeld gives his best performance to date on any record. Fans of Dead Swans
will surely go nuts, but anyone looking beyond that stumbling scene of hardcore will be left searching for more. As with most beggars there is the appetite for appreciation, they of course are offering something, they just aren’t offering enough worth giving a damn about.