Spanish Love Songs
Brave Faces Everyone


5.0
classic

Review

by Atari STAFF
February 11th, 2020 | 289 replies


Release Date: 02/07/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Hey man, I just wanna survive

When I “reviewed” Schmaltz, it was a mere five days before the birth of my daughter. I love Spanish Love Songs more than the next guy, but I’ve been skeptical about how much of my adoration for their music was tied to personal connection vs. strictly talent. All the doubts and cathartic energy poured into their sophomore effort seemed to mirror all my fear and excitement of becoming a new dad. Surely, Schmaltz just came out at just the right time.

With Brave Faces Everyone, I’ve officially accepted that Spanish Love Songs are just that damn good. Their music has such an engaging quality to it that seems to be completely affecting regardless of your current situation. Whether you’re going through a big life change or you’re just plugging away at your job to stay financially afloat, this is a band so tuned in to human emotion it’s impossible not to be moved in some major way.

With seemingly every album of late having a strong political angle, it’s refreshing that Brave Faces Everyone is more focused on the every-day struggle of the average Joe than anything else. The common topics fly out of Dylan Slocum’s mouth abruptly: credit card debt, fighting depression, the process of aging. His vocal performance – while very good on Schmaltz – has taken a huge leap forward here. The other band members are in sync with this change; every single guitar riff and echo of the thundering drums is dressed up with a massive production that really pops.

Schmaltz had several “holy shit” moments – particularly in the explosive nature of “Bellyache” – and Spanish Love Songs have now upgraded these drastic, epic choruses into part of their trademark sound. During the album’s softer moments, Slocum’s trembling voice has never been more reminiscent of Captain, We’re Sinking. When he’s pushing himself to the limit, however, one can’t help but feel floored by his manic energy. Straining every fraction of his voice in each chorus and immense buildup, he completely nails it – singing every song on Brave Faces Everyone like it’s his last day on earth. No track is a better example of this than “Beach Front Property”; the euphoric and twinkly guitars lead into the most towering chorus of Spanish Love Song’s career. Slocum’s passionate performance is matched in quality by some of the most brilliant and self-aware lyrics he’s penned. The lead singer knows he’s getting a bit old to sing about these topics, and a goofy grin is inescapable when he shakily croons: singing sad to thirty-somethings in a bar, play us some nostalgia songs/cause no one really wants to hear about you anymore. Beneath this dark sense of humor, the expansive instrumentation and his vocals work together for the ultimate release of tension.

Dylan Slocum doesn’t need a miracle. He needs about 30 goddamn miracles, as he so bluntly declares on the bouncy “Self-Destruction (As a Sensible Career Choice)”. At times, Brave Faces Everyone is just as insanely dramatic and self-deprecating as its predecessor. It’s often bleak, but the album has such a triumphant sound to it – like the band members are all hellbent on improving their situation. Beneath every utterance of anguish or “loser” is just an average guy doing the best with the cards he’s dealt. Where Schmaltz felt more like an exercise in self-pity, with Brave Faces Everyone the band have become completely self-aware. There was an insane amount of anticipation leading up to the album, and it’s such a joy the band were able to surpass all the built-up expectations that came with such stellar singles as “Losers” (previously released on a 2-song EP), “Kick”, and the epic “Losers, Pt. 2”. Since the successful Schmaltz, they’ve only increased momentum with an untouchable level of quality and passion oozing from each track they’ve dropped. What we have here will likely go down in history as the band’s magnum opus. It’s just so fucking massive and Netflix-level binge-worthy. Without a slow song or acoustic number, Brave Faces Everyone is ten tracks of loud, abrasive rock music that should connect with anyone who’s life isn’t perfect. The band remains a group of ordinary people doing their best to survive; I’d wager they’re not unlike us. Sometimes surviving sucks, but we might as well give it our all through the good times and the painful ones. As “Kick” puts it, keep your head up, if you’re not okay.



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user ratings (280)
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Kompys2000
February 11th 2020


4068 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm three tracks in and holy shit, this thing is wrecking me.

elliootsmeuth
February 11th 2020


3967 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Can't wait to listen. been putting it off to listen with a friend. Liked the singles a lot, so I know this is probably gonna be a 4.0-4.5 easily.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
February 11th 2020


25722 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

first review in over 4 months so you'll have to excuse the rust.. I can make any necessary edits in the morning though if anything looks off!



couldn't bring myself to give this anything less than a 5. Schmaltz holds a special place in my heart but this is just as good or better. band is ridiculously solid

Digging: Jeff Rosenstock - NO DREAM

elliootsmeuth
February 11th 2020


3967 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"just as good or better."



Those are fighting words.

Kompys2000
February 11th 2020


4068 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Very much disagree that this album doesn't have a strong political angle, otherwise good review

onionbubs
February 11th 2020


12537 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

didnt like this nearly as much as schmaltz :/

Digging: Underoath - Disambiguation

Atari
Staff Reviewer
February 11th 2020


25722 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

@Kompys, thanks! there are certainly some political references but for the most part I found the theme to be about just getting through our sometimes ugly day-to-day lives. It was just a nice break after some recent albums being so obviously aimed towards The White House but I could be seeing it from a different viewpoint than you ;)

Muppelope
February 11th 2020


1901 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This is my first SLS album and maybe I'm just shallow, but I really hate the way this guy sings. Instrumentals are pretty neat though.

Kompys2000
February 11th 2020


4068 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's true the album largely focuses on everyday personal struggles, but I'd argue the framing intentionally sets those struggles against a backdrop of systemic poverty and ever-increasing societal unrest. That's one of this album's biggest selling points for me- the difference between "I'm sad" and "I'm sad because everyone I know is drowning in debt and/or mentally ill and/or hooked on drugs due to factors beyond their control".



I'm sure plenty of people who have never lived paycheck to paycheck will still connect with this on a more general level, like everyone goes through tough stuff in their day-to-day right? But I think it's pretty specifically an album about being poor, and dealing with the conditions that keep people poor.

Calc
Contributing Reviewer
February 11th 2020


16579 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

liked this more than the last one but buffalo is still this band's best song

Digging: Grey Matter (MI) - Climbing Out

AsleepInTheBack
Contributing Reviewer
February 11th 2020


6358 Comments


I struggled with Schmaltz for the very reason that it felt like an exercise in self pity with little drive for improvement or growth. If this changes that, I may just love it.

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 11th 2020


34515 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review. I can totally relate to the feeling of "is this nostalgia goggles or actually that damn good" - basically any album I rated highly last Spring around the birth of my son. Like Asleep, I sort of struggled with Schmaltz; it was decent but I never fully bought in and it seemed a tad whiny. Still, the talent was there, so I'm interested in this. An Atari 5 automatically pushes it to the top of my priority list.

Digging: Motion City Soundtrack - Go

GPooch21
February 11th 2020


146 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

It sounds like if The Menzingers, Hotelier and the Wonder Years had a baby that made shitty music.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
February 11th 2020


1609 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

With seemingly every album of late having a strong political angle, it’s refreshing that Brave Faces Everyone is more focused on the every-day struggle of the average Joe than anything else.




that is political ;)



great review, as always. it's still a little too early to tell, but i think i'll end up liking this more than schmaltz. it's just more powerful throughout, and i really do think they grew as musicians and dylan grew as a lyricist/singer.

NorwichScene
February 11th 2020


3108 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

No where near as good as Schmaltz imo. I loved that album, nearly every track was fun yet depressing. I also miss the slower acoustic side (say Aloha to No One).



This is more mature, but to the detriment of most the music. Dylan also comes across annoying in some of these tracks, stand outs for me are the singles Beach Front Property, Losers and Part 2.

butt.
February 11th 2020


7436 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"It sounds like if The Menzingers, Hotelier and the Wonder Years had a baby that made shitty music."



oooooof. I surely wouldn't call this shitty, but yeah if you combined those three amazing bands this would be a somewhat shitty version of that. definitely hearing influences from all three

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
February 11th 2020


1609 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

idk i think aloha to no one was the most annoying song on schmaltz, so i'm glad nothing like that is on here

McTime50
February 11th 2020


1016 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

song structures are kindddda repetitive, like every song ends at the 4 min 10 sec range.



besides that this is p nice

Digging: Jeff Rosenstock - NO DREAM

Kompys2000
February 11th 2020


4068 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Agreed, if anything holds this back from an eventual 5 for me it'll be that

coldheaven
February 11th 2020


5075 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've never heard this band before, but holy shit am I glad that this review drove me to check this out.

Digging: Infant Island - Beneath



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