Album Review: The Great Explainer – The Great Explainer

You know when bands describe themselves as ‘post-hardcore’, yet when you listen to them you find yourself wondering “what happened to the hardcore?” Well, there are no such issues with Philadelphia/New Jersey punks The Great Explainer.

Sounding like he mouthwashes with a bag of gravel, vocalist/guitarist Sean Bystrzycki is right at home in the hardcore punk world, sounding not unlike a particularly pissed off Lou Koller as he barks his way through the 10 songs on offer. The link to hardcore is clear and patently obvious.

Musically, however, this self-titled full-length debut owes little to New York’s finest. Instead – and it’s a comparison that extends to the vocals to some as well – you have a band that sits very much in the same camp as Hot Water Music or Small Brown Bike. And fans of those bands should sit up and take note, as you’ll find a lot to love in ‘The Great Explainer.’

The Great Explainer by The Great Explainer

Indeed, as the vocals come crashing in after the tumultuous, rumbling, drums on opening track ‘Shadowcaster’I had the same ‘holy shit’ feeling like the first time I heard my first Hot Water Music song, ‘Southeast First’, back in 1999. It’s an absolutely monstrous, fist-in-the-air opener and pulls you in instantly.

It’s to The Great Explainer’s credit that they keep this level of intensity up throughout, although the rest of the songs never quite match such an incendiary opening. That said, ‘God Botherer’, ‘Phrases & Logos’ and ‘Untitled’ are all brilliantly spikey and show their ability to change things up, slow things down or throw in some huge swathes of melody.

If there’s one criticism, it’s that The Great Explainer perhaps sound too much like Hot Water Music in places (although in 10+ years of writing about music, I’d never thought I’d use such a phrase as criticism…), and a bit more individuality would really help to set them apart – but it’s something I can overlook when the songs are as direct and as exciting as the punchy ‘Makeshift Cities’.


‘The Great Explainer’ by The Great Explainer is out now on Panic State Records.

The Great Explainer links: Facebook|Twitter|Bandcamp

Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)

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