The Bronx is one of my favorite bands for two reasons. The first is that their live show is the best thing you’ll ever see. The second is that their albums always kick ass. When it comes to the many self-titled Bronx records, the latest being V, only one question really needs to be asked: will these new songs enhance or detract from seeing them live?
To the surprise of exactly no one, the latest from The Bronx continues their multi-album streak of raising the bar for themselves. The follow up to 2013’s IV continues in a similar vein by adding more polish and fine tuning to the band’s raucous sound which they have been developing since their debut in 2003. Everything there is to love about a Bronx record is on display here and turned up to 11. From the blistering guitar driven openers of “Night Drop at the Glue Factory” and “Stranger Danger” to the more refined rippers like “Side Effects” and “Two Birds,” there is something for everyone.
The first thing I noticed was the heavy distortion on Matt’s vocals on this new album. While I found it distracting at first, the more I listened the more I realized how much it captures the essence of their live performances. Bronx shows are always so damn loud anyways, you might as well embrace it full throttle. It’s not hard to picture Matt with a huge grin on his face as he howls, “I’m a killer / Let me be who I am” or “Just like the challenger / I’m gonna explode.” His lyrics have always ranged between a black humor approach to a full on, no holds bar social critique. Clever lyrics and precise delivery have always been strengths of The Bronx. And there is plenty of both to go around in V.
Layered within the vocals are some of The Bronx’s most powerful riffs to date. There is just no relief for tired feet on this record because every track will get you moving. I am a particularly huge fan of the piano over the chorus of “Stranger Danger.” Channeling the spirit of the dirty rock bands that dominated the scene throughout the 80’s and the hardcore bands of today, solos are either filtered through wah pedals, bent to hell and back, or some wonderful combination of both. The album feels sleazy at some parts and like a kick in the belly at others. But at no point does either seem like a bad thing. You would assume that as a band ages, they would slow that shit down since they will be playing it live at some point. But here are The Bronx pushing their abilities in a celebratory way that hasn’t been felt since their debut.
Any year there is new Bronx material – whether it’s punk or mariachi – is a good year. But I am partial to the punk material myself, so V is a huge treat for me. I can just picture all of the chaos that songs like “Cordless Kids” and “Sore Throat” will induce in the pits and it excites me to be a part of that. While the magic of the process and the success that surrounded the first Bronx album may never be replicated, the band has continued refining and improving their sound. V is them at their finest. Where IV felt like more of a recovery album that established solid footing for the band, this latest effort puts them in a more established place, allowing them to stretch out and have more fun than we’ve seen in a while. The album feels huge and personal at the same time and has been a huge delight for me so spin over and over and over.