Wednesday 10 June 2020

Western Addiction - Frail Bray

Labels: Fat Wreck Chords
Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital
Released Date: 15 May 2020


1. The Leopard And The Juniper
2. They Burned Our Paintings
3. Frail Bray
4. Lurchers 
5. Rose's Hammer 1
6. Rose's Hammer II
7. Laurette
8. Utter Despair
9. Wildflowers Of Italy
10. We Lived In Ultraviolet
11. Deranged By Grief

May saw the release of the third full-length from California punks Western Addiction. WA's career stretches back almost two decades, starting with the 2003 EP Remember To Dismember (I'm relying on Discogs for this information, so please point out if any of it is incorrect). I first discovered them in 2004 when they released a split with New Mexican Disaster Squad. Their debut album Cognicide was released in 2005 and it would be a further twelve years before the follow-up Tremulous. There have been several EPs, Splits and Comps in between, but now feels like the right setting for a new album, given the backdrop of a global pandemic and also the pandemic of racism being brought to the fore.

Western Addiction’s hardcore punk is loud and gloriously old-school on Frail Bray. Opener ‘The Leopard And The Juniper’ is an urgent call to arms with sing-along melodies and gang vox. Up-tempo rhythms are joined by treble-heavy riffs, adding frenetic energy to things straight off the bat. WA have always had the mentality of ‘ get in, go hard, get out’. They do what they know best and that’s exactly the case on ‘They Burned Our Paintings’. Catchy and angsty, it’s a song crafted and delivered with maturity and experience.

The title-track is very much a classic hardcore punk song, with audible vocals and driving instrumentation. They don’t need loads of dissonance or noise to hammer their point home. This reminds me of when I first listened to Orchestra Of Wolves by Gallows. Both that album and WA’s Cognicide were released in the same year, coincidentally. The production/mastering on Frail Bray is spot on as well. The songs are full of volume and nothing’s too clean either. ‘Lurchers’ contains added rock n’ roll flourishes, especially in the guitar department and leads straight into ‘Rose’s Hammer I’, which continues that rock n’ roll vibe, while flying by in no time at all.

‘Rose’s Hammer II’ is like a catchier Cancer Bats song. I’m not saying the two bands are similar but this just hits the spot. It still contains enough punk venom but the slower, groovier instrumentation and memorable vocal hooks that work really well. I like the dynamic between fast and slower songs on albums like this. It’s back to fast on ‘Laurette’ and some sub ninety-second hardcore punk done right. Nothing more needs to be said here. Despite the heavy intro, ‘Utter Despair’ isn’t the descent into darkness that you might have been expecting. Yes it’s got a more menacing side to it, but WA’s melody is always there to keep things on track. 

By the time you reach ‘Wildflowers Of Italy’, there’s a real comforting feeling that comes from this record. It’s constantly strong and given the career that WA have had, that’s no surprise. It’s so easy to get drawn into the infectiousness of it all. Closing duo ‘We Lived In Ultraviolet’ and ‘Deranged By Grief’ are lyrically brilliant (as are all of the songs on Frail Bray) and while they both have their own unique feel, with the former being more urgent and the latter being somewhat darker musically at times. The album ends as it started, rather abruptly but that’s what this type of hardcore punk is all about. This is great and Western Addiction show no sign of slowing down. 

Frail Bray is available to stream and download digitally below:-

Physical copies can be purchased from Fat Wreck Chords here -

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