When I first found out the Chicago four piece The Brokedowns were releasing a new LP I was stoked. The band play some of the best Midwestern punk rock around and, in my opinion, are incredibly underrated. Hopefully the release of Sick Of Space on Red Scare Industries will help to change that and get them the recognition they really deserve.
The first of the thirteen tracks on Sick Of Space is named The One True Freak. Starting out with just guitar and vocals, The Brokedowns welcome us into the album in a way that quickly gets you invested. Soon enough the full band comes in and the track really explodes into life. Then before you know it we're onto the next song, The Fort. The Fort is not only my favourite song on the album but one of my favourites of the entire year so far. It starts out with a great bass line and a simple drum beat. The song isn't the most melodic musically, with the band choosing to go down a stabby to the point route. It's the vocals where the track gets its melody from. The contrast in stabby music and melodic vocals works really well and certainly grabs my attention. The third song, Cave Trash / Dumpster Embassy, really sees The Brokedowns at their most intense. Everything about this song feels ramped up to the max – drums are hit harder, guitars are strummed with more force and there is so much more venom coming out of the vocals.
Pardon The Light is a song about privileged people complaining about trivial things that most people wouldn't care about. You know the popular phrase "first world problems", that's what this song looks to fight against. The Brokedowns are brilliantly insightful on this song. I love the metaphor in the chorus of "from where I sit on roasting on the spit you seem fine." This is a great working class anthem. Trauma Czars reminds me of Off With Their Heads, which is always a wonderful thing. It brilliantly treads the line between fist in your air sing-along punk rock and something a bit harder and darker. Up next is the album's title track, Sick Of Space. This is a classic chunk of Midwestern punk rock music. It doesn't reinvent the genre but is a great addition to the classic songs of this style of punk rock. Musically it's pretty stripped back with some simple patterns that never look to over-complicate matters. The snappy vocals hook you in and when the whole band joins in for the chorus my heart does a little flutter. I do love me some gang vocals. The song is about how the people in charge aren't in touch with what the common working class person wants and needs.
I had a lot of fun listening to Shitty Little League. It, again, shows a nice contrast of styles with some in your face hard punk rock and then a more alternative rock style. I really enjoyed the hard punk rock particularly, The Brokedowns play this style so well and it got me so pumped up. The eighth song, Kings Of The Dust, is another big highlight on Sick Of Space. The tempo is upped for the opening verse of the track giving it a more conventional sound. When we get to the chorus we are treated to more delightful gang vocals. I loved the trade off between a single vocal and the gang on the chorus. It gives an extra element that really adds to the track. Guy Shit is a shorter track that deals with the problems being a man can deal you. The track is a rumbler with a slightly distorted sound making for some interesting listening. This distorted sound gives the song more of a serious and darker tone than you might expect from a band like The Brokedowns. America's Riff is another short one, coming in at only fifty-six seconds in length. It features an intense vocal declaring that the United States Of America needs a riff to unite the country and this is it.
The eleventh song is titled Led Zeppelin III. It has more of a classic rock and indie style to accompany the gruff Midwestern punk. These styles shouldn't work as well as they do here. The Brokedowns appear to have pulled off the almost impossible. There is a guitar riff that puts a massive smile on my face between having the urge to sing-along with every single word. The penultimate song is the brilliantly titled Mommy, Can I Go Out And Chill Tonight? This is a mid-tempo track that's almost a bit chilled out compared to the rest of Sick Of Space. This is quite welcome as there's been so much going on so far I'm exhausted. As it turns out, chilled out for The Brokedowns is superb. I'm more relaxed and I still want to throw my fists up and sing-along with every word. The final track on Sick Of Space is named Ancient Memes. The album finished with what is without a doubt in my mind the most serious song of the thirteen featured. The vocals feel genuinely angry here and a little scary. Even when we reach the chorus, The Brokedowns feel really pissed off. This is such a ferocious way to finish the album and I really dig it.
This album is The Brokedowns best work to date and should see them move on to even better things. It takes the Midwestern gruff punk formula and gives it a fresh coat of paint. This is one of the most varied albums in this genre I've listened to in sometime and it's brilliant.
Stream and download Sick Of Space here: https://thebrokedowns.bandcamp.com/
Like The Brokedowns here: http://www.facebook.com/thebrokedowns
This review was written by Colin Clark.