Words by Natalie Blacklock
At its core, punk rock is largely lyric driven and evokes a plethora of emotional responses, resonating with the hearts and minds of so many of us. Songs like these enable the listener not feel as alone in the world, for there’s comfort in knowing the we’re all on the same sinking ship. Bands like The Menzingers, Rise Against and Signals Midwest hold their audience’s attention through introspective, delicate and eloquent songwriting that differs between personal poetic lyrics to big singalong moments and LA-based punk quintet, Spanish Love Songs, are quickly joining those ranks.
Spanish Love Songs are:
Dylan Slocum (Vocals & Guitar)
Kyle McAulay (Guitar)
Trevor Dietrich (Bass)
Meredith Van Woert (Keyboard)
Ruben Duarte (Drums)
Since forming in 2014, Spanish Love Songs have released two albums and an EP to critical acclaim and have built a strong fanbase of underground audiences through appearances at The Fest and South By Southwest. The band are set to release their third full-length album, ‘Brave Faces Everyone’, on February 7th via Pure Noise Records / Sony Music Australia and it is an absolute stunner.
The ten-track album, produced by Spanish Love Songs guitarist Kyle McAulay at Howard Benson’s West Valley Recording, is steeped in detail-rich storytelling set in small-town America and anxious urban jungles alike, unfurling heartbreaking tales of addiction, depression, debt and death juxtaposed alongside wider societal issues like mass shootings, the opioid epidemic and climate change.
‘BRAVE FACES EVERYONE’ TRACK LISTING:
1. Routine Pain
3. Generation Loss
5. Beach Front Property
8. Losers 2
10. Brave Faces, Everyone
‘Brave Faces Everyone’ is best described as one of those records that you have to listen to start-to-finish to truly understand it – and coming in at just over 40 minutes, it’s the perfect length for session listening. Opening with Routine Pain; a guitar-driven and drum heavy number that tears at the heartstrings, which lays bare feelings of heartbreak, negativity and self-deprecation at its most raw and honest. Self-Destruction presents a bold singalong moment, as its lyrics lend to the hope for something better to be coming soon, with the words “It won’t be this way forever” acting as a strong motif as the song addresses big-ticket album themes including debt and climate change. The third track on the album, Generation Loss, hits hard looking at the concepts of death, loss and depression – using the ocean as a consistent link throughout the track, which is certainly a relatable concept in songs from local acts like The Amity Affliction.
Kick, is the first single to have been released from this record and it’s easy to see why. Although its instrumentation sounds a little 2000s pop punk, the lyrics are anything but – almost a blunt as hell check on reality. The track follows a couple of different stories relating to drug use and the social impacts of its use, all the while alluding to the harsh reality of imprisonment. While Kick may lack in joyful exuberance on the surface, it makes up for in a dissection of the harshness of the world around us as it stands today.
Beach Front Property has a far more jangly start, sounding almost calm until the chorus kicks in and takes a confronting turn in the next verse, as Frontman Dylan Slocum talks chillingly about “Ducking in my seat because someone brought a bag into the movie theatre”. This line really sums up the fear around recent mass shootings in the USA – something that is an all too real reality for many people but is not something that many Australians wouldn’t think twice about.
Losers touches on the deep-seeded feeling of nothing ever changing no matter what you do or how hard you try to make a change – once a loser, always a loser. Optimism poses the hardest question of all – what does it take to be happy? In an existence where there is so much fear and anxiety to face on a daily basis, it is easy to become too overwhelmed, but the soaring guitars of Slocum and McAulay seemingly reassure the listener that weathering the storm and coming out the other side is just as important. The recently released second single, Losers 2, explores the notion of the world crumbles down and perspective of a young adult feeling helplessly trapped within in it as it does.
Dolores is one of the slower tracks of the record; is set it a hospital, addressing the feelings of loss and death seemingly from the perspective of emergency services workers. Slocum’s graphically detailed lyrics really force the audience to feel something and let me tell you, it hits hard. The album closer and title track, Brave Faces, Everyone, is almost uplifting as Slocum’s lyrics to convince himself (and the audience) that things will be okay in the end – “We were never broken, life’s just very long”.
The moodiness of the instrumentation paired with the gravelly rasp of lead singer Dylan Slocum’s voice, ‘Brave Faces Everyone’ is a confronting, honest and raw record start-to-finish. The unique mix of personal vignette, universal social truths, realism, optimism and self-deprecation, matched with the signature post-hardcore / emo style of Spanish Love Songs, ‘Brave Faces Everyone’ is the call to arms to keep on keeping on any way we know how.