REVIEW: Broadway – Gentleman’s Brawl

Artist: Broadway
Album: Gentleman’s Brawl
Genre: Rock
Label: Uprising Records

Ah, young men. Ever eager. Such is how I choose to sum up this album, the sophomore effort from Broadway, which varies between decently enjoyable and absolutely, ridiculously OTT. You may need to take a shot of adrenaline to get through the whole thing. It’s fired up with relentlessly driven, spirited energy and enthusiasm and while this keeps it alive and immediate, it’s also more than a little all over the place. There are good ideas and lots of potential here, but they’ve been washed down with a tank of musical energy drinks so that everything sounds like a head-on collision with the effects table. Arresting, yes, but perhaps not in the way they intended.

Misha Camacho’s vocal range is acute, although they haven’t figured out what to do with it. When the instruments are already soaring at full speed and some nascent string effects have been worked into the background, a vocal line that propels the song into the stratosphere doesn’t do much for one’s eardrums. I could be getting old (24 years too old) and experiencing a corresponding decline in my tolerance for shrill, piercing choruses and breakdowns, but it seems to me that the band would be a lot more consistent and compelling if it took the time to streamline its music. As it is, the opening track “Party at Sean’s House” scores points for the sheer velocity of its approach, but the vocals sound too kitschy next to the heavy drums and guitars. The outright refusal to pause for breath or melody means that everything is fused together as a kind of sonic firecracker, and when it explodes towards the end it’s literally painful. Mind, for every person discouraged by that description, several more will embrace it eagerly, so don’t perceive it as an all-out criticism.

“Faster, Faster” sports a fitting title, though it also highlights the ongoing problem with Gentleman’s Brawl. In its quest to chuck everything into the musical garbage disposal, the guitar solos and vocals never strike a balance but rather compete to see which can reach greater celestial heights. This makes for a cacophonous mess, further evidenced in the disharmony of the seemingly endless “Better Things.” Some restraint would serve them well, particularly as when they do pare back their instrumental brigade, there is some genuine ability to be seen. “I Am Not a Rockstar” for instance sheds the wilder, uncontained streak of the earlier songs, but preserves the excess in the vocals. Camacho sounds like he’s straining himself, and not in a good way. While the title of this song doesn’t exactly inspire images of brilliance, it could have channelled its guiltily appealing hooks into something fun and amusing as opposed to the rash and ridiculous track offered here.

When the band does put some thought and effort into their music however, there is a flourish and bravado that’s much easier to like. “Vagrant Stories” is far from perfect but it seems infinitely more considered. The brief midsection breakdown is gnarly with the heavier vocals, though admittedly these come across as vaguely silly after the pre-pubescent earnestness of the preceding tracks. “Lawyered” opens well with a temperate, catchy first verse and a genuinely arresting chorus. It loses its way in the second verse, when an onslaught of strings shows up to wonder what it’s even doing there. Nonetheless, the band’s urgency and aggression is more controlled on this track and it’s far more engaging as a result. “Medication” is something of a surprise package – it opens solidly, but the vocals are positively sullen by comparison with the others. Camacho is more reserved and afflicted, cutting a veiled silhouette next to the powering music. The pace of the song remains as furious as ever, but much like its predecessor, the more thoughtful approach to the vocals gives the song heart and sentiment and this separates it from the largely incomprehensible mire.

Gentleman’s Brawl is certainly vigorous and likeable for those who like their music tied, screaming, to a catapult. From a neutral perspective however it is disappointing, if only for the band’s insistence on hiding their flair and potential behind an aural car crash. One vocal chill pill and one solid dose of perspective ought to do the trick next time.

SCORE: 7/10
Review written by Grace Duffy

James Shotwell
Latest posts by James Shotwell (see all)
Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “REVIEW: Broadway – Gentleman’s Brawl”

  1. max says:

    absolutely slaughter it all the way through then give it 7/10 … interesting