Apostasy. (n) The act of departing away from one’s beliefs.
So The Boss has decided to let me have a go with reviewing. He has also decided to challenge me by handing me a piece of music from a universe I do not have anything to do with: melodic punk. Honest to Hawking, I’ve avoided melodic punk for all of my life like the plague. Why? Not sure exactly why, maybe I woke up at dawn throughout my teenage years to a great deal of… well, other shit, but no melodic punk, ok?
Kids at my class eagerly sang along to Green Day on their walkmans (it’s not walkmen, is it? Cause that’s a different review) while I was too busy lying on the living room floor deciphering Genesis and mild opiates. At the time I was, and still am, too much of a tit for this melodic punk thing. Melodic punk, you say? You mean as in Good Charlotte, Blink 182 and all those posey-pose bands with way too perfect teeth NOT to be on TV? You mean the guys who seem to have WAY too many fucking tattoos for the jingly-jingles they write up in between photoshoots? Yes. Yes and no. Not exactly: these thugs are ugly enough to focus on the music, and it’s all for the best.
At first listen, the Apostates’ debut album Wide-Eyed and Determined will sound decisively young and American to the untrained ear, it will undoubtedly feel more like the product of listening to Nirvana’s suburban-street-cred pain than being children to the unbearable melancholy of the English landscape. These guys, the Apostates, will have you believe you are listening to the end credits of an American teenage movie, until the unavoidable rift in their mask gives you a glimpse of that Englishness they (musically) so much want to depart away from, that’s why they’re Apostates, remember?
But the lyrics never lie: “a thirsty rose I am today” or “the junkie in me throws me off this Juliet balcony” or “London come find me” or the way the singer enunciates the T on the very last and hidden track (woops, spoiler alert came in too late). Eventually, you realize the band is making a strong counter-culture statement: “fuck your expectations towards British music”. I for one decided to listen to this stuff without researching their background beforehand and got schooled by these lads.
This record is solidly built around the unbeatable combination of rock bass, rock drums, and rock guitar, with virtually no soloing or adornment with the exception of vocal harmonies to underline the records’ most memorable phrases (Yes I’m all that I need, when I’m dreaming). There’s nuances and dynamics, though. Hell, they even pick an acoustic guitar every now and then. These songs are pure emotion sung through the solar plexus of young adulthood angst.
The track that sold me this record and finally found me a comfortable place to come back to when lost amidst the thunder rain of endless riffing, cymbals and snare devil may care, was Divide me. There is a certain sense of honesty to the inevitable musical marriage between California and London that seems to happen here. I am not yet a fan of melodic punk, but this band has opened my eyes to the genre, there’s more to this kind of music than a beaten path. This is the closest I’ve come to commit Apostasy and becoming a melodic punk rocker. I think the great thing about this musical generation is that it is not necessary to give up on your beliefs to embrace new ones, you just fruit-pick the cool parts from all traditions and mash it all up, right? Or at least that’s what weaklings like I do. But not The Apostates, they stand for something true.
After listening to this album, you realize the title of the record says it all: this is wide-eyed melodic punk, but these guys’ determination to do it really fucking well has given birth to a very interesting chimera, because being aware of one’s wide-eyedness is in itself quite the ultimate oxymoron, isn’t it?
Words: Nube Fénix