The Bronx - The Bronx (IV)
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Record Label: Ato Records/Red
Shelve the horns. The Bronx have returned as their original incarnation after a hiatus performing as Mariachi El Bronx. IV continues the tradition of self-titled records, and is the first record from The Bronx in over 4 years. IV retains the old flavor of The Bronx, but takes a decidedly more mature approach this time around. Songs are unquestionably more subdued and traditionally structured than before, and hooks are aplenty. It's evident that The Bronx have changed over the years, but is it an improvement?
IV takes wastes no time introducing itself with the charging opener "The Unholy Hand," one of the album's most energetic tracks with a banger of a chorus. The Bronx still has that raw feel from before, and lead singer Matt Caughthran's vocals are still worn with rasp, but now carry a new polish to them. As the album progresses to radio-friendly tracks "Along for the Ride," the memories of The Bronx from 2003-2006 begin to fade, but it's easy to fall into the catchy riffs and choruses IV contains. The front half of this record is loaded with possible radio hits, and most songs have something unique that makes them memorable. "Youth Wasted" has an anthem for a chorus but struggles from sloppy pacing. "Too Many Devils" sounds a lot more like version 1 of The Bronx, but with more restraint.
By the time you reach the snoozer "Pilot Light," it is clear that the unbridled euphoric screams from II's "Shitty Future" days are gone. "Torches" is another slower-paced meandering track that immediately follows, killing any momentum the first half carried over. Fortunately, "Under the Rabbit" has the same brutally raw feeling as the band used to, and IV begins to right the ship. "Ribcage," the album's strongest track, is a frantic burner with an outstanding chorus. It's the perfect marriage of the roots of pre-mariachi Bronx with its post-sombrero reunion. The album nears the end with the subdued and emotional ballad "Life Less Ordinary." The finisher "Last Revelation" is a throw-away song that belongs on the bonus track section of an international release, with an obnoxious chorus and uninspired structure.
Whether you will enjoy the fourth self-titled release from The Bronx is dependent on whether you are ready to mature with them or not. For those of us that prefer the faster, more-chaotic version of The Bronx, it's a mixed bag. Some songs marry the two styles excellently, while others fall well short. Perhaps this is the release that shakes the dust off, and V will bring it all together. IV is an album with a bit of everything - good and bad. It all adds up to a solid release that is suited better for the radio than it is among your hardcore collection.
While the first record will always be in my top 10 albums of all time, and I definitely prefer the ultra-aggressive style, this album is REALLY good. The songwriting and spectacular and I think that, from to back, this is their most solid album to date (excluding the first release). I'd give it an 8 out of 10.
This is the record that Island wanted them to write instead of II. I like it. I think the melody and the rawness sonically is a cool juxtaposition. It also feels like touring with the foo fighters and that "massive rock band" life rubbed off on them.
Great review Scott, mostly agreed with everything you said, but as no one has actually said it, best record since I, but it's still not I. (Not that I ever expected it to be, but it all feels decidedly foos/midtempo to me)