It’s big, it’s aggressive, and at any moment it could smack you in the face.
Label: Cooking Vinyl/ATO Records
Released: 22nd September 2017
“Everyone’s gonna die!” screams Matt Caughthran, and you’re right in the thick of The Bronx’s new album ‘V’. The LA punks open their fifth album with two fists up, and they don’t let them drop over the course of 11 pulsating rounds.
After becoming pop-rock idols with stadium-sized choruses in their last two albums, The Bronx return to the gutter with a more familiar, grittier, edge to their sound. That’s not to say they haven’t learnt a few lessons along the way with the rocking and rolling ‘Side Effects’ and the soaring ‘Channel Islands’ mixing it up in amongst the mayhem.
In parts, ‘V’ finds The Bronx at their violent best too. Scrappy numbers like ‘Fill The Tanks’, and the huge ‘Sore Throat’ get right in your face as they’re delivered with blistering speed and those venom-spewing, razor-sharp, vocals from the band’s ringleader to match.
Add into the mix that producer Rob Schnapf has got John J. Ford and Ken Horne’s duelling guitar tones slicing through the madness with fuzzing riffs like in opener ‘Night Drop at the Glue Factory’ and in the flanged ‘Two Birds’ and you get all that makes The Bronx such a force.
The real difference in ‘V’ comes with Matt Caughthran’s determination to focus his songwriting more externally with album feeling like a snapshot of modern life. Typically, the singer still manages to wear his heart on sleeve nonetheless. In ‘Cordless Kids’, he inspires revolution from the sidelines, singing, “Riot / Downtown / Let’s burn this city down / Change is coming without a warning / Your future is buried in the past.”
In the end, ‘V’ is everything you know and love about The Bronx. It’s big, it’s aggressive, and at any moment it could smack you in the face. The only criticism comes with the accusation that this album plays it safe when it comes to exploring the inner layers of the band’s sound. But, at the same time, if it ain’t broke… Alex Bradley