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.
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.