Review Summary: On Progress the RX Bandits leave the 3rd Wave behind to hint at what they would become.
Sometimes you can tell a lot about an album based on its title. This is especially so with The RX Bandits' Progress for that's exactly what it is. It was the beginning of the progression from the dime a dozen third wave ska-punk of Those Damn Bandits
and Half Way Between Here and There
to the experimental and progressive sounds of The Resignation
and ...And The Battle Begun
that have made the RX Bandits one of the most exciting bands of the decade.
the RX Bandits combine the upbeat ska-punk sound of their prior records with a wide range of influences from dub to hardcore to progressive rock. This culmination of influences and sounds makes it so that Progress
contains something for everyone. The album's opener VCGIII is a powerful ska/post-hardcore amalgamation. Beginning with a descending bass riff and palm-muted scratch chords it soon explodes into a triumphant blast of distortion, brass, and screams. This post-hardcore/ska mix is also found in the magnificent addiction story of Infection. Infection's gripping guitar heavy sound crescendo's in a mass of horns, string swells, and Embree's vocal chords being torn to shreds. Status shows that the RX Bandits also have the pop side of things down pact. By the time Embree opens his mouth and sings "I don't care how she treats me any more!"
, you're hooked. Its sugary sweet up-strokes and pleadingly honest honest only get sweeter as the song progresses and by the chorus its hard not to be singing one more day, to leave it all behind / to go where you have never even tried / don't you let your inhibitions guide your way"
at the top of your lungs. Nothing Sacred shows the burgeoning sounds that would later be explored to their fullest on later releases. It plays with sounds from the funkier side of The Police's discography and blends them with bits of ska and progressive rock. While it doesn't have the forceful power of similar sounding tracks on The Resignation
it is a snapshot of the band's evolution.
Besides introducing the sounds that would later be taken to new extremes on The Resignation
, Progress marks the emergence of Matt Embree as a lyricist. Prior to Progress
Embree's lyrics were nothing more than blunt political musings and the typical high school baggage of railing against the caste system of cliques and cheerleaders. On Progress
Embree fine tunes his political critiques and expands his social ramblings into well versed diatribes against commercialism, sexism, and the trappings of Americana. Analog Boy's plea for individuality in an overtly commercial age is summed up in the song's final verse of i couldn't believe my eyes when i woke up this morning / I looked at the sidewalk and there was a million people dressed the same / who answered their cell phones at the same time and all popped a pill for the same disorder / can't be fat, no we can't have that. We're so far gone."
There is also a strong 60's ethos at the core of Embree's message. On Get he sings "Baby doll well now can't you see that all the best things in life are free" / You don't need to be a millionaire to be happy,"
not only as a rejection of consumerism but also as a gospel to look beyond what society has to offer.
is true to its name, as it marks the RX Bandits first strides in separating themselves from the pack. While it is more simplistic than the free-flowing musical adventures of ...And The Battle Begun
still manages to hold its own and is just another reason why the RX Bandits are one of the best out there.