Layered with pessimism but sprinkled with optimism; Spanish Love Songs unleash an emotional triumph with Brave Faces Everyone
In 2018, Los Angeles punk band Spanish Love Songs released their second album Schmaltz – an emotional rollercoaster in which vocalist Dylan Slocum looked inwardly and amplified his grief and self-doubt, while slowly trying to inch towards some self-acceptance. For a more detailed introduction to the five-piece feel free to check out our spotlight feature. The success of Schmaltz paved the way for an exciting and positive period, with the band signing for Pure Noise Records being the icing on the cake. Two years on, the much anticipated follow up is delivered in the form of Brave Faces Everyone.
Creating an album which is so personal and self-critical would undoubtedly take a lot out of you, which was the case for Slocum with Schmaltz. “I don’t want to be the band where each album is me complaining about myself for 40 minutes,” he says. While Brave Faces Everyone still often speaks from a personal level, Slocum has looked more outward and written about a whole host of widespread issues, as well as observing situations that the band experienced during the touring cycle of Schmaltz.
‘On any given day, it hurts to stand up straight’ yells Slocum in the opening track Routine Pain. Without any delay, the urgent tone of Slocum’s voice commands our attention. The song contains the same immense level of storytelling that we’ve come to expect from the band, allowing us to absorb every lyric. As the words ‘have you ever felt lower than everyone else?’ ring out, it’s difficult not to be self-reflective and really buy into the songwriting of the band. The aptly titled Self-Destruction (As A Sensible Career Choice) follows, where the struggle of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is really conveyed. The chorus of ‘It won’t be this bleak forever, yeah right’ illustrates this cynicism that is often so difficult to avoid. Generation Loss allows the power of Slocum’s voice to be showcased, and it forces listeners to take notice; something which Spanish Love Songs manage to do consistently throughout the album.
The drug-addiction confronting single Kick truly demonstrates the successful musical elements that make up Spanish Love Songs. The pulsating punk guitar tone and the energetic drums carry the music, allowing for the welcome use of keyboards and synths which help bolster out the sound and add an effective dynamic to the musical canvas. The tracks don’t stray too far from the formula, however, it doesn’t make for a tiresome listen which can sometimes be the case within the genre.
Beach Front Property is another standout track, with the lyric ‘Every city’s the same, doom and gloom under different names’ encapsulating one of the album’s main messages that these issues are affecting us all, regardless of where we are – an oddly comforting thought. The first track initially released from the album, Losers, has had a shiny facelift AND a sequel in the form of Losers 2. Slocum himself sums the two up well; “So Losers is the anthem where we try to be defiant and throw up a middle finger – whatever, ‘we’re losers forever.’ But Losers 2 is the hangover. It’s us wrapping our heads around that grind, and feeling like we can’t escape it”. In true Spanish Love Songs fashion, the bridge hits us in the gut with the lyrics ‘You know, if we weren’t bailed out every time by our parents, we’d be dead, what’s gonna happen when they’re dead?’
Optimism (As A Radical Lifestyle Choice) works as a practically opposing track to Self-Destruction (As A Sensible Career Choice). Slocum sings ‘don’t take me out back and shoot me’ which bares the feeling of while things might not be perfect, we can still strive towards something better. The title track is the last on the album which successfully ties the body of work together. The final words of the song ‘we were never broken, life’s just very long, brave faces everyone’ encapsulates the whole message of the album.
Brave Faces Everyone is an album which explores topics like drug addiction, debt, depression and even climate change, and the emotional punk rock undeniably demands the listener’s attention from beginning to end. While it is easy to see the album as wholly pessimistic, it is balanced out by the small moments which strive to be optimistic, making it an extremely relatable listen. All in all, Brave Faces Everyone is a triumph both musically and lyrically, and with the world in a seemingly negative spiral, the album provides us with the comfort of knowing we’re all on the same sinking ship.
Brave Faces Everyone is out on the 7th February via Pure Noise Records ~ Preorder Here.
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