Review Summary: Hitting the ground jogging.
Over the last couple of years, the homebrew operation Not Punk Records has become one of the go to sources for what's on the up and up in the DIY scene of the greater Southern California sprawl. The mostly cassette driven label, which also has its ties to the Murrieta based warehouse venue The Dial, has seen quality releases that range from all over the punk spectrum with Apathean (sludge metal), The Coltranes (psych-punk), Save The Swim Team (3rd-wave ska), as well as a handful of live sessions from the likes of Full of Hell, ACxDC, and State Faults; and now with the new EP from Desperate Living they have taken a solid foothold into the world of melodic hardcore.
The first thing that sticks out about Desperate Living is that I Think I'm Losing Touch
is far more Bane than Modern Life Is War. It's a refreshing throwback, in a world where the melodic hardcore tag has been commandeered by an unending sea of second rate Witness
clones and tired youth crew holdouts, that a band can maintain the middle ground and not fall into the same gimmicks that have marred a generation of hardcore kids. While it is versed in your standard hardcore affair, I Think I'm Losing Touch
is full of riffs that are almost moshable but still driving enough to avoid being a two-step, and buildups that end up being more than an excuse for gang vocals. Unfortunately, at the same time there is also a serious lack of catharsis. Yes there is energy, yes there is movement, but Desperate Living never seem to capitalize on it and let it break into what it truly could be. It's a shame because these songs are yearning to go somewhere big, as they position themselves like a clenched fist flying towards the face, but at only inches away they stop short and miss the target. Further complicating the matter is the production, which, while characteristically rough around the edges does recall the works of Youth of Today and Judge to a tee, is also irksomely flat giving the vocals no room to pop despite their best intent.
All in all, I Think I'm Losing Touch
is an admirable starting place for the Californians that proves they're smart enough to know what they're doing and to do it well, but at the end of the day they still need some time to grow into an identity that is more than the sum of their parts.