Downcast – I’ve seen hell when I was with you
The UK hasn’t been extremely fertile in recent years when it comes to the melodic punk scene. With the rise of arch post-punk peddlers like Idles, Fontaines DC and Yard Act, public attention has shifted much more to the far end of the spectrum. As much as I enjoy some of these bands (Fontaines DC, in particular), I have a huge soft spot, and therefore a gaping void when it comes to British melodic punk that hasn’t been overproduced to the point of being indistinguishable from radio pop music. There are of course bands that do, but I rarely find anything to get excited about. And I’m not asking for much. Give me a gruff vocal, a big chorus, some decent guitar sound, maybe a few gang vocals, a desperate subject and off we go. I know it’s not that easy, but once upon a time, it was difficult to get around for groups using this formula. I guess that’s why they’re so rare these days.
You may have already guessed that Downcast wields just this arsenal of musical weapons. If I were to try to triangulate their sound, then maybe we’d be somewhere between The Wonder Years, Iron Chic, and Red City Radio. I would say it’s propulsive, but not as much as Iron Chic, emotionally worked, but not as much as The Wonder Years and well produced but with a slight rough edge, but few people are as gruff as Garrett, let’s be honest. But all that “always the bridesmaid” rhetoric is probably a little unfair. Because when you bring together all the forces of Downcast, you get a band that wears its influences on its sleeve (the “Clothes will smell like clothes for weeks” in Sylvan must surely be a nod to The Wonder Years?) , but do not resemble any of these groups. Which has the curious result of making their music incredibly familiar without singing anyone in particular.
There are times when the record feels like a snapshot of unrequited teenage Venice Beach infatuation, such is the sun-kissed but gloomy sound, but there are also times when you can really feel the local’s own experiences. of the Bristol group. I spend some time in Bristol and some of the lyrics and stories on this record feel almost tangible. The joyful misery, the regret of the decisions made and the resulting helpless and fleeting anger (“If U Want 2” is a good example). Something that also popped into my mind a few times is mid-era Blink. Before all the Travis Bar-core explosion that has spoiled the nicer, more melodic end of the punk spectrum in recent years. Basically, it’s a really nice middle ground between pop punk, the kind of Fodder Fest beer punk stuff that I love with all my heart, and emo/alt-rock. And therein lies the reason I chose to review this record; because I think a lot of people who visit Punknews are going to dig this. Yes, and I’m a lifer orgcore. I also love that they oscillate between anthemic melancholy (“Catharsis”) and borderline hardcore breakdowns (the end of “Mistakes That I Have Made”). It’s not that often that I hear a British band that could be accused of taking direct inspiration from Mayday Parade and Black Peaks (RIP) on the same record and I’m totally here for that. It may not be groundbreaking, but I know I’ll be listening to this all year long and heaven knows I’ll be heading for a live performance. (If you guys are reading this, give me some dates!)