IV (White Drugs/ATO)
By Mike Delano
Modern life is a real drag according to the The Bronx‘s lyrics, but you wouldn’t know it from the kick-ass, muscled boogie-punk that these LA punkers jerk out. I guess that’s the limbo that they’re trying to get at: Times are shitty, but you’ve gotta try to put a happy spin on it, or else you’ll end up sticking your head in an oven. The songs on IV, their first record in five years, talk about blown paychecks, desperate times, and unrealized dreams. It’s pretty grim, as “Along for the Ride” puts it, “we used to be alive/now we’re just along for the ride.”
Black clouds aside, the band’s sound has been honed to perfection here. It’s the perfect balance of spiky Wire/Gang of Four guitars and a more traditional chugga-chugga punk charge, along with streamlined (but not shiny) choruses. You can dance to this and not have to forfeit your respectability card since it maintains a rock edge without ever veering into full-on, fire-eyed aggression. In other words, you might actually see a chick dancing next to you. Most of the tracks here are of the traditional, race-to-the finish three-minute style, but the band does take a break for the arm-around-your-buddy-at-the-bar sing-a-long of “Torches.” Of course, in keeping with the overall bleak outlook of IV, even that song gets a sinister edge, since “the vultures circle the sky” overhead, keeping a watchful eye on any feel-good vibes that might bubble up. Better have some fun before they swoop down.