Spanish Love Songs - Brave Faces Everyone - First Impressions
LA indie-punkers Spanish Love Songs follow up their beloved LP “Smhaltz” with undoubtedly their best and most polished effort yet, on the recently released LP “Brave Faces Everyone” via Pure Noise Records. The album consists of 11 heart-on-your-sleeve, melodic and emotionally driven punk rock and roll anthems, meant to be turned up to 11, while you scream along to every word like it’s your very last breath.
The album opens with the slow building “Routine Pain”, with quiet guitar strums and a story telling vocal delivery, before singer Dylan Slocum belts out the lyric “just let me ruin my guts tonight” as the song erupts. Immediately, the guitar distortion kicks in while the tempo shifts to upbeat, and it was right at that point, I knew we were in for something special.
Throughout the album, we are treated to a variety of pop punk anthems that are at times dark and depressing, angst and anxiety-ridden, and often bleak and cynical. However, even with Dylan Slocum’s lyrical content, the music has such a triumphant feel, that it’s almost impossible not to get some sense of positivity and hope out of these songs. These are the anthems that scream to a generation of millennials, looking for something to hold onto, a sense of commonaility, while trying to get by in these crazy unprecedented times. The songs are engaging, the lyrics are meaningful and relatable, the production is top notch, and the melodies and hooks are memorable. And even after only a few listens, it is clear that Spanish Love Songs have put a lot of time and thought into these songs and into honing their craft.
While Spanish Love Songs may not be doing anything musically groundbreaking on their new LP, the songs still stand on their own as does the album as a whole. In an oversaturated pool of similar like artists, this is not an easy feat. Quite frankly, I found this album to be more gratifying than most of their peers’ recent releases. And while their influences may be obvious, they’ve managed to consolidate the best elements of those influences into a cohesive sound. And to their credit, they’ve done this with enough variety to make 40 minutes go by quickly enough that you want to hit the Play/Repeat button over and over again.
If I were to make a comparison, the sound on their new LP sits somewhere between The Menzingers and The Wonder Years, an emotional roller coaster of gritty punk rock and roll, with pop hooks and a sense of urgency, not heard since The Gaslight Anthem released the '59 Sound. And it’s only fitting that Spanish Love Songs have found themselves touring alongside The Menzingers (in Europe) and The Wonder Years (in the US) on various upcoming dates. I know I can’t wait to put my fists in the air as I feed off the energy of the live version of personal favorite “Losers 2” with its massive chorus “Don't you know you were born to die poor man?
Don't you know that you're gonna do yourself in?
And you'll always wake up tired. Because there's nowhere we go from here”. This song is bound to be a crowd favorite, as I can already envision every kid in the pit shouting along with their firsts in the air; a feeling that hearkens back to the days of seeing shows in packed VFW halls in the late 90s/early 2000s.
“Brave Faces Everyone” is sure to make a number of year end lists, and has set the bar high for bands in this genre to follow. It certainly is already a contender for best pop punk album of 2020 in my mind. I believe we are just seeing the beginning of what Spanish Love Songs are capable of, and I’m truly excited to see how their sound continues to evolve. At the same time, I hope they don’t stray too far from what they do best! Where in the past several years, it’s been bands like Iron Chic, Gaslight Anthem, Menzingers, Beach Slang, Joyce Manor, Hotelier, The Wonder Years and countless others that bands in the scene have been trying to catch or keep up with, I think Spanish Love Songs have now set the new standard and are poised to be the new heavy weights.