Review Summary: ...and long may they run rampant
With their 2013 release The Future Is Cancelled
, Captain, We’re Sinking crafted something rather amazing. In an age when punk music is more of an aesthetic ideal than a genre all its own, the Pennsylvania quintet managed to distill the traditional values of the musical movement, telling the story of a relationship breakdown with a particular brand of verve and streetwise eloquence that targeted the heart of the range of emotions that inevitably surround such a scenario. The Animals Are Out
serves as the first point where the promising outfit would cut their teeth; it lacks much of the impressive confidence of its successor, but displays a more prominent focus on the punk rock sound, and the band’s trademark sound is unmistakably present throughout. This, coupled with a decidedly more aggressive flair for the dramatic in terms of production and vocal style makes the release an impressive first full-length effort for the band and a worthy pre-cursor to one of 2013’s best rock releases.
In a twist on the classic punk stylistic of a simple, albeit catchy riff pervading just one composition, Captain, We’re Sinking incorporate a number of these motifs throughout single songs. The riffs may last for only one verse, one bridge section, or even less, but the integration of such elements never feels ill-fitting. It has the charm of a patchwork quilt- at times, some of the textures may clash, but the overall effect is woven together so beautifully and with such confidence, the finished piece tells a truly unique story. The production on The Animals Are Out
is a mixed bag; it is a rough and unpolished experience to say the least, but this is much more of an asset to the band than they realize. It creates a decidedly punkier atmosphere, and gives the release an endearing, almost garage-band feel. Some keener layering on the vocal track would not have gone amiss though, as this does occasionally hinder the style and causes the sound to become rather one-dimensional and grating, ‘Curse These Long Dancer’s Legs’ being a prime example. One of the album’s weaker tracks, the shifting in volume, shout-along chorus and crowbarred-in bridge section mistakes recklessness for confidence. The production, in this case, betrays the underwritten composition and doesn’t allow the individual parts of the song enough breathing room. However, in stark contrast to this, tracks such as the following ‘Mediocrity Is Nothing To Brag About’, ‘The Mother/ Daughter Team’ and ‘Breaking The Fourth Wall’ all display such proficiency in weaving together their energetic bass and head-bobbing musicality, that the production is a positive boon to the overall effect. The latter especially displays a fantastically blended mixture of instrumentation and vocal, where every facet is allowed a time to shine- and at just shy of two minutes (the shortest song on the album), this is all the more impressive.
In terms of vocals, The Animals Are Out
does exhibit slightly less depth than the profound bitterness found on TFIC
, possibly owing to the fact that there is not a single thematic focus as centerpiece. Despite this, there are still deep, surrealistic leanings to be found in the lyricism that would become a more prominent factor on their later releases, allowing the release that same fun-loving feel but without the impending emotional crush. Pleasantly, the feel of a more traditional punk sound comes into its’ own on tracks such as ‘I’m A Product’, which displays a pacey and frantic vocal style, much in the same vein as early Bad Religion or Millencolin. The origin of the ‘Watch me as I fall’, lyrical motif which would later feature on ‘Beer Can’ on TFIC
, also features on this track, which has a pleasant sense of continuity to it. The true beauty of the vocal style, however, is in the delivery. The vocal patterns and melodies serve as their own form of instrumentation, weaving tuneful melodies that harmonize with the main body of the musicality. This is a trend that the band have continued, and whilst it is still clearly something of a work in progress here, it is nonetheless still very clever, and is one of the key aspects of the band’s defining sound. ‘Are You Calling Me A Sinner"’ has a verse vocal style that borders on spoken-word but still flows with the form of the song's melody, once again wearing that feel of classic punk on it's sleeve, punctuating every hoarse, angsty wail.
Captain, We’re Sinking are the one to watch. They have a remarkable talent for making mildly abrasive rock music legitimately heartfelt and intelligent, allowing it to appeal to casual music enthusiasts, as well as fans of the genre. Those wishing the band had more of a traditional ‘punk’ sound will find a lot to enjoy on The Animals Are Out
. The production issues are either a pro or a con depending on the listener’s viewpoint, but it cannot be denied that hearing the band in a different light such as this does definitely add an entirely new element to the sound, even giving slower tracks ('Death Of The First Born At The Hands Of The Almighty') a raw allure that would be hard to accomplish through any other means. The biggest overall complaint is that the album lacks the same calibre of relistenability the band would later go on to perfect. One of the biggest assets to the band’s sound is that their releases are positively overflowing with memorable melodies and song sections that pepper the entirety of the release, and TAAO
is no exception. The problem is, here Captain, We’re Sinking are still attempting to define their sound, and as a result, these aspects are more fleeting, less assured, and slightly less creative. Flashes of their brilliance are found throughout, and the journey is still well worth taking, but a few tracks do fall into ‘passing fancy’ territory, which is a shame coming from the stalwart pop punk pioneers we’ve all come to love.