Album Review: Brigades – Our Lives Unfold EP

In recent times the in thing for pop-punk bands to do between albums has been to put out an EP of acoustic re-workings of previously released songs, complete with the odd new track lobbed in for good measure. The Story So Far and State Champs both did so with generally favourable results and now New York’s Brigades have opted to ditch the usual full throttle attack and follow suit with their new EP ‘Our Lives Unfold’.

Given the band call Pure Noise Records home, this release was never going to be terrible, but how would turning off the amps work for a band that usually rely heavily on thrashy chords and wailing punk rock riffs to power their angsty sound? As it happens, fairly well actually.

Our Lives Unfold EP by Brigades

From the off Brigade’s decision to replace their customary flat out tempo and balls to the wall approach with a poised and measured delivery is pleasantly refreshing. That’s not to say proceedings are lacking in energy or feeling in the slightest. Wandering melodic fingerpicked lead lines and punchy strummed chords keep each track zipping purposefully along, while the constantly duelling vocals bring the feeling and impact in spades.

The dialled back pace and noise levels show off previously unnoticed dynamics to the re-worked tracks. The greater focus on the lyrics on this version of ‘The Writing On The Wall’ showing a greater vulnerability and introverted self-exploration then was noticeable on the original, while the acoustic guitars and the focus on the intonation and emotion of the vocals, rather than pace and anger, help to create a resolutely stark yet unbroken air.

This effect continues on ‘Small Time Crooks’. The intertwining guitars in the intro displaying an ear catching melody before building into an impeccably nailed chorus harmony that, much like the instrumental bridge that follows, resonates with hope and mournfulness in equal measure.

Even older song ‘Bruiser’ gets a welcome reprise and is highlighted by some virtuouso acoustic guitars and rapid fretwork. But its new track ‘Under My Skin’ that really steals the show. The ever present background air of melancholy and self-doubt fully takes over as the pace slows yet further, the acoustic guitars drifting in and out under an endearingly disconsolate and forlorn vocal. This is Brigades as poignant and relatable as they get, unashamedly self-dismissive and reflective but every bit as hard-hitting with their angst as their abrasive and chest-beating distorted punk rock normally is.

Much like their peers who have put out similar offerings, Brigades have used their time between full-lengths to show of new and previously unexplored sides to themselves and their songs which is both interesting and painfully easy to connect and relate to. ‘Our Lives Unfold’ is yet another pop punk winner for Pure Noise and a commendable departure for Brigades.


‘Our Lives Unfold’ by Brigades is out now on Pure Noise Records.

Brigades links: Facebook|Twitter

Words by Dane Wright (@MrDaneWright)


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