When you think about punk bands from Sweden I'd wager that the first that comes into your head is skate punk legends Millencolin. Probably rightfully so as, like I mentioned, they are legends. Recently I've discovered a band from the next generation of Swedish punk rock bands who seem destined for big things. The band I'm talking about is Braincoats, a four piece band from Uddevalla in the South West of Sweden. In December they released their second full length album 12 Reasons For Self-Medication.
12 Reasons For Self-Medication's opening song is titled These Hospital Walls. I always think that a small part of the job that the first song an album has is to introduce newer fans of the band to their sound. Braincoats do this well, sounding like a mix of Alkaline Trio and MXPX with a dash of Bad Religion. Three excellent bands so I know I'm immediately going to enjoy this record. These Hospital Walls is about having a revelation about your life after ending up in hospital for doing something dumb. Suicide City is one of the stand out songs on the album. The band pick up the tempo at the beginning of the song and it just makes you think that a huge, anthemic song is about to start. That's exactly what happens. The song has many highlights but what really stands out to me is the bridge that leads up to the chorus. It's one of those fantastic cathartic moments that will make you feel better when you're singing along with the band. The guitar solo on Suicide City is also superb. The third song is titled The Best I Never Had. Picking up the tempo yet again, Braincoats power through a punchy song about being hopelessly in love with somebody who isn't interested in you. The melody and the vocal delivery grabbed my attention on my first listen of the song, feeling like some classic 90s skate punk. There are also some wonderful "whoa-ohs" towards the end of song that are beautifully atmospheric.
Dead At 21 is a really striking song title that really stands out when you first read the tracklisting on 12 Reasons For Self-Medication. It's about being at the point of committing suicide. Serious stuff. Despite the seriousness of the topic, the melody of the song makes the song sound quite upbeat almost to the point of a joyous celebration. I love this about the song. Suicide is something that needs to talked about - so the more that people talk about it, the more can be done to prevent it. Up next is the fifth song Blacked Out. Blacked Out is a song about having a problem with drinking too much alcohol and drinking to the point where you pass out. Braincoat show off a slightly different side of their musical abilities in the song, at times venturing into emo territory whilst still retaining the same upbeat nature that is becoming a trademark of the album. I Hate Everything brings us crashing into the halfway point of the album with a relentless minute and a half punk rock banger. As you've probably guessed from the song's title, it's about not liking many things and wanting to escape from the world. Despite the angry nature of the song, it again feels like a celebration with the song's delivery. Braincoats are a band who somehow manage to put many a positive spin on everything.
The seventh song on the album is named Gasoline. Gasoline is a mid-tempo punk song that doesn't really have the same upbeat feeling as much of the first half of 12 Reasons For Self-Medication. Vocally I'm really reminded of Mike Hererra of MXPX on this song, which is cool because he is one of my favourite vocalists in the game. I also quite liked the build towards the song's final chorus. I Need A Doctor is a fun pop punk song. It starts very quickly with guitars building up to a melodically delivered vocal introduction. The song really comes into its own at the chorus (naturally, it's a pop punk song). It's about realising you're not well and seeking help. The delivery of the chorus is so upbeat that it again feels like a moment of catharsis when you're singing and dancing along. Rooftops goes along a slightly different route musically with its more Americana-ish style of punk. I'm impressed that Braincoats managed to have a change of musical style and still sound like Braincoats. I feel like this is a sign of a band that are completely comfortable in their own skins and aren't afraid to try different things.
Animals is a melodic punk song. It's interesting in that it reminds of the gruff punk orgcore style of the likes of Hot Water Music or Red City Radio but also manages to keep its skate punk stylings. How Braincoats have managed that I have no idea but I dig it. There's a maturity to the sound of the song that will resonate with many fans, not every song needs to be up and down, some can just go along at a steady pace and still be awesome. The penultimate song on 12 Reasons For Self-Medication is named Hank. This song follows a similar line to the melodic punk of Animals. It's incredibly anthemic with many many "whoa-ohs" included in the track. It's about getting over a bad break up and realising you need to cut someone out of your life completely. The tone of the lead singer of Braincoats' voice is noticeably different, singing at a deeper octave. This again adds to the mature sound on the song as well as showing of his abilities as a singer. The final song on the album is named Blondie. Blondie has a great guitar build-up to get it started before we really begin a plodding and understated track about a long lost love and wondering where they might be. I enjoyed the slower pacing of the song, again showing another side of the Braincoat dice. Blondie is probably the song that's more accessible to the more casual music fan who doesn't necessarily love punk rock as much as the rest of us.
The problem with reviewing stuff in January that was released the year before is that it makes you start to rethink those end of year lists you spent hours on getting right. If I'd had heard 12 Reasons For Self-Medication earlier then there's a good chance it would have pushed hard to get a place in my top ten. All twelve songs are well written and reasonably varied and contain many things that I love in my punk rock. Sweden does it again, producing another really great punk rock band.
Stream and download 12 Reasons For Self-Medication here: https://braincoats.bandcamp.com/
Like Braincoats here: https://www.facebook.com/BRAINCOATS/
This review was written by Colin Clark.