Review Summary: for the love of pogo and shred ...Bad Juju
is, when it comes down to it, a punk record that successfully blends two of the most valuable traits a debut full length can possess. For one thing, there is this charming recklessness that is able to vault unembellished musical compositions to a whole new level, regulary entailing refreshing takes on dusty drafts of long-serving genres. Well, above all, Anchors' firstling really has no need to cover up any kind of simplicity and sobriety, but it's pretty reckless anyways. Second, we have ambitiousness, the holy grail that's to be found to stay relevant as a quite new formation in a populous musical direction. While being reckless and ambitious surely is not sufficient to constitute a great record, nor it is the most salient set of preferences for being so, it can set a band apart from their contemporaries, and the ambitions Anchors reveal with Bad Juju
are impossible to ignore. Plus, it fu
ckin' shreds too.
Before somebody gets too excited, Anchors just play foundational, substantial melodic hardcore/punk not too far from the latter-day genre heavy-weights such as A Wilhelm Scream or Strike Anywhere. There aren't king-sized hints of dueling metal guitars, scattered insertions of limping mid-tempo rollers or superfluous excursions to, let's put it this way, any direction that doesn't necessitates a unremittingly cracking snare - hi-hat assemblage as comrade for a fun 22 minutes ride. While this often desired 'refreshing take' implies such aforementioned assimilation-of-[insert various genre]-elements more often than not, Anchors flouts amplifications to a genre they conspicuously adore to death (myspace says they “love .. shred and pogo”, so go figure), and put together an uncompromising package of melodic hardcore frenzy. Of course there are sporadic moments of regeneration in order to keep the songwriting gripping and the song arrangements from becoming stale and transparent, but those won't distract from the cohesive and continual flow the band rides on full speed ahead.
The prementioned recklessness is perceptibly in every fiber of Bad Juju's
well modeled torso. Take the free-flowing but rigorously energizing guitar leads in "Buscemi", the emotional hardcore outbursts that peak in rousing gang shouts in songs like "The Feelgood Song Of The Year" and "Ill Glory" or the vigorous vocal hook over the kick ass main riff of the title track - the pure amount of attention grabbers that feel so seamlessly and visceral indicates the joy and insouciance that the band must have had during the writing process. Hell, they even let themselves get carried away to a cheesy "LET'S GO!" shout to start off the verse of "One Man Wolf Pack", so fu
cking reckless they are. Thankfully, the Australian 5-piece prevented stumbling into the realms of fun but repetitive power chord breaks or "just-for-the-sake-of-needing-a-verse"-verses. Both guitarists are technically proficient and prefer the use of melodic octave chords or tinkering guitar licks to keep the songs on track while constantly pushing the speedometer with shredded palm muting. Sadly, the rhythm section won't compete with the standard set by the guitars and confines oneself to keep the songs together, what in the end probably reads worse than it actually sounds. The band showcases a frictionless interplay among its sonic parts that spawn raving songs like the album center "One Man Wolf Pack". With this perfectly allegoric title, the track usurps every defining element the record is composed of, crams it into 2:25 min runtime and emerges with a breakneck, Southern rock inspired start-stop break, a jaunty solo that continues with flickering guitar shredding, and an arpeggio flooded guitar fill that's getting devotedly yelled at.
Still, the true value of a debut full length can rarely been cherished in terms of how straightforward, unconcernedly or joyous it may sound. It certainly has to be a great record before anything else, and Bad Juju
is, hands down, an awesome one, but in the long run the ambitions and the potential you can convey is important to keep the listener about two years in line til your sophomore record drops (well, hopefully). This being the case, it's more easy to get over the sometimes too forced yells, the shared vocal duties in "We are Oscar Mike" that add next to nothing to the song, or that one missing drum fill that would've made the transition awesome +5. So, all things considered, Bad Juju
is a well done debut, and you can be sure the band is able to do it even better next time.