Review Summary: The Indiana collective’s debut LP is one of the best yet one of the most overlooked punk albums of the decade so far.
Last year, when I bought the new House Boat album (yeah I’ll probably name-drop a few of my favorite bands throughout the review), the record label, Traffic Street Records, has some problems with the orders, and it took a few months to get the album. During this time, a few bungys or hep kats probably went insane sitting on the couch not
listening to the new House Boat album on vinyl. Long story short, (what am I talking about? There’s nothing long about this story) they felt bad and gave me like 10 free downloads from their catalogue. After sifting through a lot of generic punk, Look On the Bright Side EP by Like Bats really stood out. It was one of the best punk things I had heard in a while, and I couldn’t wait to hear an LP from these guys.
Like Bats is another emerging punk band from the punk/pop-punk scene in the Midwest. Apparently the Midwest is some sort of black hole or something, as expressed by the album title. Or maybe the band is the black hole. Whatever. Anyway, when I was researching this band and album for this review, I couldn’t find a release date. Their bandcamp says May 2012, but I found other sites talking about it in February. I even found a youtube video (with about 70 views) of a song off this album, posted in December 2011. It’s really hard to find anything on these guys, they haven’t gotten nearly as much attention as they deserve. This is either one of the best punk albums of 2011 or 2012, but that doesn’t matter, ‘cause this is one of the best punk albums of the decade.
The band falls under the category of the general orgcore punk sound, with the Lawrence Arms and Jawbreaker as obvious influences. They play a very anthemic brand of punk, not unlike Latterman or its 500 offshoot bands. The vocalist has a nasally, raspy voice that almost sounds like a cross between Grath from House Boat/The Steinways and Brendan from the Lawrence Arms. Seriously, that right there should be enough of a reason to get this. The songs are extremely melodic, with pounding drums and blazing punk guitars and some tasty basslines. This is some of the catchiest punk there is, and you’ll be singing along before you even know the lyrics. The vocalist sings about screwing up, feeling alone, getting drunk, and just struggling in general. The lyrics are very heartfelt and passionate, the vocalist shouting in a last-ditch act of desperation to escape his lifestyle and his constant mistakes. He is self-deprecating, and he sings that all he wants to be is left alone. The lyrics are a bit dark, but they are ultimately very relatable and can be quite cathartic.
Throughout the album, the band sticks to the formula, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The songs don’t sound the same, and they all have such catchy hooks that they tend to stand out from each other despite having similar structures. They do slow it up a bit on the last track, The Last Catholic in America. The album is 9 tracks in 32 minutes, which is pretty lengthy for a punk album. The songs don’t drag on at all though. If you like modern punk/pop-punk or if you have a punknews account, definitely give this a listen, it’s worth your time. Pretty soon, you’ll have this on repeat for weeks on end.