June 19, 2012 - Uprising
On the off-chance you ever meet a recently arrived alien, or even worse, an old dude who needs to get up to speed real quick on what the last couple decades of popular punk music has sounded like, you could either go off on a lengthy lecture that covers all the important bands and movements, or you could just cut to the chase and play Gentlemen’s Brawl, the second full-length from Orlando, Florida's Broadway. It's vaguely danceable and aggressive with upbeat programmed synths, sensitive enough with its melodramatic harmonized emoting, but on the aggressive side with braying pop-punk-stylized (and Auto-Tuned) singing, gang vocals and the occasional screaming parts, all while maintaining a crossover sense of melody and a keen ear for a hook. Not easy to pull all of that off at once. The drawback is that singer Misha Camacho's outstanding vocals are tasked with carrying so much of the burden of the songs' melody that there's almost no space left over for the guitar work, which tends to be little more than a persistent, textural crunch in the background. It could be a production issue, with the combined weight of the synth sounds and layered rhythm guitars crowding out the higher pitches, but there's little to speak of in terms of leads and or memorable riffs. “Better Things” has a nifty solo midway through, however, and “Vagrant Stories” is propelled by a pounding, distorted riff. The harmony-rich, pleading “I Can't Do This Alone” seems like it has an interesting, looping guitar figure in there somewhere, you just have to work to find it. Others might find much of the album to hue much too closely to the Used in vocal delivery, production style and song structure, particularly on “Vagrant Stories.” But the good news is that there's so much to shout along with, criticisms about influence or instrumentation can take a backseat to an enjoyable dash through the benchmarks of the punk and post-hardcore of the past 10 years.