Review Summary: The Bronx trip over themselves
The Bronx have always seemingly made it their mission to inject immense amounts of fun into their hardcore punk stylings. Whether it is The Bronx I
with its mile a minute songs full of punchy guitar lines or The Bronx III
with its more hard rock approach, every album was full of anthems for going out, getting trashed, and causing trouble. It has been a little over three years since the last Bronx album, as the band was working on their mariachi band alter ego (seriously), so The Bronx IV
comes with more than a bit of anticipation. Unfortunately, the album is all bark and no bite.
The energy The Bronx is known for is dialed back immensely, with most songs reaching mid-tempo. This wouldn’t normally be the death-knell for an album, but when it is combined with lackluster hooks and an unmistakable feeling that all this has been done before (and better) by the band themselves on previous albums. The opening track “The Unholy Hand” is one of the few real bright spots, with a blazing opening riff, and a fantastic chorus, as long as you can get past the idiotic lyrics. Sadly, the energetic nature of the opener is immediately cut off with the atrocious “Along For The Ride”, which sounds like the vocalist for The Hives doing guest vocals on a Foo Fighters B-side. The next highlight doesn’t come until halfway through the album with “Too Many Devils”, with a crushing bridge that calls back to their first album. The second half is even worse than the first, with “Pilot Light” sounding like something The Damned Things threw away in writing sessions, and yet, the real low point is “Torches”, a huge misfire of an attempt at a more subdued track. “Torches”, while being a ballad by The Bronx standards, sounds like every lackluster, pop-punk track that is on albums people hand out to you outside of The Menzingers shows.
A huge misfire in an otherwise stellar discography, The Bronx IV
shows a band that is out of ideas and out of fire. It is an album predicated entirely on hooks, yet the moments that catch the ear are few and far between. Maybe it is simply a case of The Bronx getting old, or maybe in all that time playing mariachi music they forgot how to write the songs that made them great. The Bronx are capable of so much more than an album with three good tracks, three bad tracks, and half an album full of monotony. The Bronx IV
is the album where a band has to take a hard look at themselves and figure out a way to refocus, otherwise their fans could turn on them. After their first three albums, this was unexpected, but also probably inevitable. Bands whose huge selling point is fun eventually hit a wall, and The Bronx is clearly no exception.