Review Summary: A punk album that chooses its influences well.
The Loves Ones - Build & Burn
Usually, when a label sends me a promo copy of an album for review, I just throw out press packets (just kidding no I don't). The typical fare is to build up the artist with all sorts of exclamatory and inflated language and punctuation. However, the first sentence on my press packet for The Loved Ones' new album Build & Burn
actually snagged me (see I do read them come on I'm a good reviewer guys).
Originally Posted by Vanessa from Fat Wreck
For as much as punk rock is about breaking down the barriers we build around ourselves, it's a challenge to be a "people's punk band" when the scene that spawned you wants to stay inside its walls forever.
That above quotation is a perfectly concise way of summing up why people hate to love and love to hate important or high profile punk bands like AFI, Against Me!, Rancid, Bad Religion, Rise Against, NOFX, Alkaline Trio, etc. The truth of it is, some of the most popular bands in every genre are the best. They transcend the boundaries of pleasing casual listeners as well as diehard fans. It's true of Tool, Rage Against the Machine, and Deftones for the 90s nu-metal scene and it's certainly true of Fat Wreck's melodic punk bands since the late 80s and early 90s. Such bands manage to be peoples' champions but also break down the aforementioned barriers. And while I wouldn't elevate The Loved Ones to the legendary status of a band like NOFX, on their new album Build & Burn
, they certainly do fulfill the lofty claims of the press packet by expanding beyond pop punk without sacrificing any musical quality.
Build & Burn
feels like a mix of new Hot Water Music, old Alkaline Trio, and even at the most mainstream of times, The Foo Fighters. I'd also locate them somewhat close to American Steel's new album Destroy Their Future
if only for American Steel's newer, more polished sound. There is something that is charmingly meat & potatoes to their overall aesthetic. They have their more earnest pop-punk moments ("Pretty Good Year"), their more blue-collar, all-American rock moments ("3rd Shift"), and their easygoing folk/country moments ("Louisiana"). The end result is an amalgam of simple but likable styles. They don't have the sardonic edge of a band that mixes similar ingredients like Against Me!, but they have a amicability to their general style. You want to like The Loved Ones. There is something in Dave Hause's slightly gravelly and impassioned vocals that is inviting to punk fans, particularly ones like myself who are somewhat over-the-hill and want to hear the classic sounds of the past but through a new lens.
However, this leads me to my biggest issue with this album; it is the sum of its parts and not much more, and The Loved Ones wear their influences loud and proud on their sleeves. On any given song, I can practically hear Chuck Ragan or Tom Gabel singing, and Matt Skiba throwing in some octave guitar melodies. These guys, though likable, produce token punk music. The songs themselves feel fresh and original, but as a whole, the album is certainly a rehashing. And while maybe rehashing is a big drawback, the fact that The Loved Ones invoke some of the best punk bands of the past ten years is welcoming. That and some moments on the album are beautiful even to make punk idols blush. The bridge and outro on "Louisana" alone could make even the most original punk maestro wish he had thought that one up himself. At the end of the day, The Loved Ones, are still a "people's punk band" but they have a few elements and passages to help them "break down the barriers" of punk's often rigid inclusiveness.