Review Summary: Israeli melodic punkers strike gold on their sixth full-length.
With the widespread tendency in modern music to experiment and progress, it's albums like Useless ID
's The Lost Broken Bones
that often get overlooked. While hardly the best-known purveyors of melodic pop-punk around today, they're something of a veteran band, having been plying their trade in their native Israel since 1994, and seeing their last three albums released on the Vandals
-run Kung-Fu label. With this, their latest album (and first for Suburban Home Records), they do absolutely nothing new, nothing innovative, nothing that hasn't been done before... However, that's far from a bad thing, as this is a perfect example of a band forgoing any pretence of progressive tendencies, and simply tackling their chosen genre with energy and aplomb.
Admittedly, I wasn't expecting much when I first gave this a spin - the only Useless ID song I'd heard prior to this was "No Time for Me to Be a Teenager" from their 2001 effort Bad Story, Happy Ending
, and while it was a tuneful and vaguely enjoyable track, it was pretty lightweight and whiny. As you might reasonably expect, the band have matured significantly in the last seven years; opener "Isolate Me" kicks its way out of the speakers after the subdued intro, and hits you like a brick to the head with it's catchy guitar lines, solid mid-tempo skate-punk beat, and huge chorus. These are characteristics that feature on every one of the album's twelve tracks, and the band's consistently strong songwriting prevents the slight lack of variation from becoming even slightly grating. Another huge plus (and marked improvement) is vocalist Yotam's particularly impressive showing here; his previously rather nasal tone has given way to a strong melodic voice, not dissimilar to Chad Price of ALL
, or Tony Sly of No Use For a Name
In fact, the aforementioned Fat Wreck pop-punkers are a band that Useless ID closely resemble, musically. However, they strike the perfect balance between the aggressive edge of NUFAN's earlier material, and the more polished melodic tendencies and pop nous of their more recent albums. There are certainly influences being worn rather blatantly on sleeves here, but it's hard to fault this when the results are bouncy singalongs like "Mouse in a Maze," anthemic stormers like "Night Stalker" and "Always the Same" or the kinetic blast of "Already Dead." It all comes together nicely for album closer (and undoubted highlight) "One Way Down," for which they've saved the catchiest melodies and most impressive chorus of all. Fittingly, for such a huge sounding record, they've enlisted the much sought-after production skills of Bill Stevenson, who has obliged by lending the crisp, hard-hitting, yet raw production that we've come to expect from the Blasting Room.
In truth, it's hard to pick fault with The Lost Broken Bones
. Sure, some tracks are less memorable than others ("Undecided," "Shallow End," and "Misconception" have yet to wedge themselves as firmly in my head as the other tracks), but there's not a single one that could reasonably be described as weak. Like The Swellers
' My Everest
was to 2007, The Lost Broken Bones
is quite possibly the best display of powerful, melodic pop-punk this year, an album that should impress both fans of the genre and newcomers alike.