Say what you like about The Bronx but they’re certainly consistent, with this marking their fourth successive self-titled album. Compare that to the mere three eponymous releases by artists like Cher, Seal and Lulu, not to mention that they all broke form and released differently titled albums in between, the cheaters…
Another reason The Bronx can’t be accused of inconsistency is the fact that with their previous three albums they have released some of the finest punk music of the past ten years, so with (IV) the band have a lot to live up to.
The sound of this latest effort lies closest to that of 2008’s The Bronx (III), where a largely straight-up rock sound has been adopted with Matt Caughthran’s instantly recognisable growl lying over the top. What is immediately apparent on album opener ‘The Unholy Hand’ is that two mariachi albums (under the moniker Mariachi El Bronx) have given a silky-smooth melodic sheen to Caughthran’s voice at times, which has previously been far throatier. At certain points the mariachi influence is even directly present in the music, evident on tracks ‘Torches’ and ‘Life Less Ordinary’.
The edge is still there for fans of their earlier work, tracks such as lead single ‘Ribcage’, ‘Too Many Devils’ and the brilliant ‘Under the Rabbit’ hark back to the rip-roaring sound of old but a progression of the band’s sound has definitely taken place. For the most part this progression works, for example ‘Along for the Ride’ and ‘Youth Wasted’ almost have an essence of Foo Fighters about them and ‘Style Over Everything’ almost seems like a more gritty Weezer, but there are just a couple of times when the album falls flat. Take the aforementioned ‘Torches’, a lumbering rock-waltz that seems like it would be okay to grab a stranger and sway to after a couple of drinks but slap bang in the middle of the track listing it just seems to break the flow and energy the album had been building up. ‘Life Less Ordinary’ is also pretty weak so umm… Basically the mariachi influenced tracks. Proof if proof be needed that this kind of thing should stay on the El Bronx records where it belongs.
For the most part though, (IV) won’t hold any surprises for people familiar with the music of The Bronx, although this may be the most accessible of their albums yet for non-fans; many of the songs have the potential to get stuck in your head for days after just a couple of listens. Despite the fact that at times it feels like there is a little something of that Bronx magic missing, for the most part this is simply a great rock album.