It’s been an interesting time since California punks Neighborhood Brats’ last album ‘Claw Marks‘ came out in 2018 so they can be forgiven for sounding like they are in a hurry to get somewhere on their new album ‘Confines of Life‘.
The Brats are pros at delivering fast, loud and tight SoCal punk rock with a truckload of hooks and energy. Lyrically the songs address misogyny, labels, the climate crisis, and the general shitty state of the world, and it all pairs perfectly with the ambush of their ferocious punk. They happily draw from all kinds of influences from power-pop to hardcore, to surf, to post-punk and it is all expertly curated to create a perfect representation of what punk rock should sound like in 2021. The musicianship is off the charts with the aptly named George Rager shredding his ax and the ball-of-fire rhythm section of Nick Aguilar on drums and Mike West on bass. Jenny Angelillo’s assured and ambidextrous voice lacerates every track.
The power-pop-punk of opener ‘Who Took the Rain‘ might throw you off a bit if you’re familiar with the blistering punk of ‘Claw Marks‘ and ‘Recovery‘, but man it’s a great track. It’s almost in New Pornographers territory with the chugging riff and Jenny Angelillo’s sugary delivery. The speed kicks in with ‘Signs and Semantics‘ with Rager channeling East Bay Ray over Bad Religion speed. ‘Miss America Pagent‘ begins and ends like a power-pop nugget with a middle that flips into hyperdrive as Angelillo sneers “in the face of oppression, burnt at the stake or standing on the stage“. ‘FFBF‘ is barely over a minute long with a Lunachicks sneer and ‘Transitional Housing‘ and ‘We’ll Find You‘ are both hooky slabs of Buzzcock-esque punk. The shit gets real with ‘Harvey Weinstein (is a symptom)‘ an all-out hardcore attack kicking toxic masculinity to the curb, followed by the wicked surf of ‘All Nazis Must Die‘ where drummer Aguilar sounds like he has eight arms.
The post-punk treat ‘Migraines‘ punches like White Lung slugging Siouxsie and the Banshees and is sandwiched between two blasts of hot punk energy ‘I Weep for the Future‘ and ‘LeBron James‘ before an epic cover of Joan Jett’s ‘I Want You‘ from her 1991 album ‘Notorious‘.
‘Confines’ of Life‘ sure sounds like an album made by people who love rock and roll and I envy the folks who get to jump in the pit when Neighborhood Brats hit the road! Out now on DIRT CULT RECORDS.