REVIEW: Bridge & Tunnel – Rebuilding Year

Artist: Bridge and Tunnel
Album: Rebuilding Year
Genre: Alternative/punk/post-hardcore
Label: No Idea Records

Rebuilding Year is a fine piece of work. It’s solid and engaging and has plenty of promise. It’s sure of itself with a light touch, never going too overboard with its instruments but still managing to evoke a thorough and vivid atmosphere.

The first track, “Synchronised Swimming,” takes an ambient approach for its opening before a cluster of instrumentation comes in along with some gentle vocals. There’s a slew of heady percussion mixed in as well to give the song some drive and coherence. The rhythm and vocals are mixed well as the song unfolds, and although it seems a little absent-minded at times it manages to grip and maintain your attention. “Harder Pill to Swallow” has a more forceful opening, its guitars driven and heavy, and it launches straight into a reckless and dramatic sound. There’s good build up and emphasis throughout and the hint of aggression in the vocals brings out the urgency in the music. It remains quite immediate and dynamic through to the end, with rolling drums and an atmosphere that varies from implied to quite overt ill will. “Outgrowing Pains” takes this acrimonious vibe and jacks it up several notches, packing a serious punch in its menacing guitars. The latter set a thick, gravelly base yet the vocals add more darkness. It’s quick and relentless, succeeding with the deft balance struck between the singing and the music. The gravity of the song is rooted in the vox and the instruments back this up well, but without adding so much intensity as to make the whole affair inaccessible.

“As Twelve Deer Run” has a similar sense of darkness, with a very vociferous sound. It feels more exploratory, as the band pause intermittently as though to reflect or regroup, before unleashing the full force of the instruments once again. There’s something in the sound that reminds me of La Dispute, though decidedly more revved-up – where La Dispute cater to a frenetic, unpredictable sonic palette Bridge and Tunnel are more thorough, if not quite as bizarrely infectious.

“Drill Instructor” begins with a thudding rumble which is somewhat ominous, before introducing vocals over a heady and constant guitar interplay replete with snaps of a solo and melodies. The vox become increasingly charged, though it does cool off a little in its latter half, descending into something of a simmering, visceral rebuke of nothingness. It has a very sinister core although the instruments remain comparatively light – the band pack a lot into the vocals and use these more so than the music to adequately convey the emotions on show. “From Parasite to Host” seems abstract and detached at first, its guitars slower and freer, but halfway through veers off course to become extremely heated and bombastic. “Hands” is a stellar offering, almost completely bare in sound with a very light, meandering vocal. The backing sound is nigh intangible and it’s markedly different from the other songs, seeming shy and vulnerable. The bass and soft guitar which accompany the singing are kept light to complement this outlook, managing to bolster the vocals to a certain extent while maintaining the cautious atmosphere. Later on, more elements are mixed in but it’s kept quite vocal-centric and never loses its personal touch.

“Gridlocked” is idealistic, with an almost precocious twang to its flourishing guitar notes. The verses have an excited and determined outlook with heady guitars challenging each other for prominence. This plays out amiably before album closer “Cooked Books.” The latter makes its way through several emotional spectrums before concluding, starting off with a standard sound and then building up to a peaking solo. The music becomes more undulating as it goes along, with the percussion playing a key role in distancing the song from a recurring bittersweet tendency lingering without. The final segment gives in to these sentimental ambitions however, singing of “emotional energy” and bringing in distant, haunted backing vocals to make the song that much more intense and meaningful. The ending is somewhat long drawn out but that aside, it can’t be faulted.

Bridge and Tunnel have acquit themselves admirably and put together a refreshing and compelling work that’s strong on sound and atmosphere without being over-wrought or too heavily polished. They seem to have a flair where their writing in concerned, and have reconciled their music and vocals excellently so as to create a sound at once absorbing and minimal. This is very worthy of your attention, and surely a sign of many great things to come.

SCORE: 9/10
Review written by Grace Duffy

James Shotwell
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