Like the musical equivalent of parasailing in a hurricane, The Bronx have always been a band to attain a sense of danger for the sake of fun and cheap thrills. While their last studio outing ‘IV’ offered more mainstream appeal with numbers like ‘The Unholy Hand’, many aficionados were keen to point out it’s less instantaneous impact compared to the LA outfit’s seminal first three records. Four years on, is ‘The Bronx V’ the injection of positive adrenaline the world desperately needs right now?
From the moment opener ‘Night Drop at the Glue Factory’ jolts the album into action, as Joby Ford and Ken Horne fire out sharp and scorching riffs at turbocharged speed, the signs point to ‘V’ being the rawer, more assertive release we’ve been looking for. Producer Rob Schnapf (Elliott Smith, Beck, Fidlar) provides a razor wire mix that enhances the urgency of ‘Fill the Tanks’ and frontman Matt Caughthran’s rallying cries of “we need more boots on the ground, no more time to mess around, our chance to attack is now” on ‘Broken Arrow’.
While these moments offer the jugular-assaulting end of The Bronx’s trajectory, there’s plenty of radio-friendly refinement on ‘V’ as well. The simplistic compositions to ‘Side Effects’ and the hearty chorus of ‘Cordless Kids’ are source of some of the catchiest moments of the band’s career, while ‘Two Birds’ contains irresistible sections of choral backing vocals that the Foo Fighters would be envious of.
But even at its most mainstream, ‘V’ still radiates with the sun-dripped Californian personality paramount to the success of every Bronx album. But with a much-needed message of protest at it’s heart that warns of “change coming without a warning”, the balance of anthemic and chaotic on ‘The Bronx V’ is a perfect blend of modern rock to inspire mass crowds looking for that injection of positive music to rage to. Maybe the world does need this album after all.
‘V’ by The Bronx is out now on Cooking Vinyl Records/ATO Records.
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Words by Andy Davidson (@AndyrfDavidson)