Review Summary: The Draft rise like the phoenix from the ashes of Hot Water Music, continuing their legacy for honest, emotional, melodic sounds with a few new twists.
I'm sure I wasn't the only person distraught over the dissolution of Hot Water Music
, who left behind a twelve-year legacy of consistantly amazing melodic, emotional punk rock, and the announcement that three quarters of the band were going on to form The Draft
was little consolation... Surely they could never recapture the magic of HWM
? Well, I must admit I was left kicking myself for ever doubting the ability of Chris Wollard, Jason Black, and George Rebelo (plus new guitarist Todd Rockhill, replacing Chuck Ragan) to make a glorious racket in the name of rock.
Notice the last word in that first paragraph. ROCK. The first thing that hits you when giving "In A Million Pieces"
a spin is the distinct lack of the hardcore/punk elements indigenous to HWM's sound. Yes, this is most assuredly a rock album, although that's not to say it isn't shot through with the kind of lyrical honesty and driving power that made old masterpieces like "Fuel For The Hate Game"
and "A Flight And A Crash"
such great albums, but the main HWM influence still present is the focused songwriting, structures and melodic genius of later-era Hot Water Music
albums like "Caution"
and "The New What Next."
However, put it down to the lack of the gruffer vocal styles of Chuck Ragan, the added influence of a new guitarist, or simply the band's desire to make a new start and form their own identity, but "In A Million Pieces"
is an album with a diverse range of styles, and much more emphasis than ever before on melody, so much so that one could quite realistically expect to hear some of the songs on commercial radio. Some defiantly old-school fans of HWM
may feel cheated by this, or brand The Draft
as sellouts but frankly, some people need to grow the *** up and understand the needs of bands to grow and progress, something which The Draft
have pulled off magnificently with this release.
Although Jason Black's usually schizophrenic basswork takes a backseat for the most part, and the chaotic guitar lines that permeated HWM
songs have been traded for chunkier and more simplified guitarwork, the album is carried along by the usual driving drumming of George Rebelo, and topped off with the sublime vocals of Chris Wollard who, while concentrating mostly on melodic singing, does occasionally bust out the whiskey-soaked growly vocals he was previously known for, using each style in exactly the right places.
The content of the songs varies significantly, from the ska-like guitars and basslines of "Let It Go,"
to the bouncy shout-along chorus of "Wired"
(bolstered by some nice subtle brass-work from Less Than Jake
's horn players in a guest appearance), to the slightly more subdued and emotional sounds of "Bordering,"
and the band even include "All We Can Count On,"
sounding like a subdued Dropkick Murphys
, with a gang-vocal led chorus reminiscent of the aforementioned irish punkers' drinking songs.
For the most part, the quality of the songwriting stays well above below par, and every song is consistantly catchy and memorable. Any fans of Hot Water Music
, especially their later material, would do well to pick this up, as would anyone with an appreciation for good songwriting and quality melodic rock.