The Architects

The Hard Way


As members of ska-punk-soul outfit the Gadjits, brothers Brandon, Adam and Zach Phillips epitomized a certain form of scooter-riding mod coolness. After the band's 2004 demise, the three siblings traded in their Vespas for Harley Davidsons and, joined by guitarist Keenan Nichols, began pounding out a snotty hybrid of punk and bar rock as the Architects. While no wheels have been reinvented on the group's fourth full-length, The Hard Way, the band prove their commitment to crafting raucous fist-pumpers low on frills or gimmicks.

"Bastards At The Gate" is a classic “us vs. them” anthem that channels Bad Religion's defiant lyricism and the soccer hooligan chants of the Bouncing Souls. The Architects successfully follow a similar framework for the hooky "Knowing Is Half The Bottle." Stronger yet is album highlight "I Carry A Gun," in which all of the band's most powerful elements--stadium-sized guitars, pissed teen-misfit lyrics, compositional curveballs and Brandon Phillips' gruff vocals--create a delightfully violent arena rocker.

Unfortunately, the band tend to follow well-worn schematics and fall flat when experimenting with their classic-rock influences. Big riffs yield small rewards on "Death Rides A Horse" and the AC/DC-aping "Big Iron Gate," the latter of which seems to imply that the state of Missouri is constantly incarcerating its citizens for no good reason. Too varied to be either a solid punk album or rock revivalist record, The Hard Way finds the Architects struggling to find a consistently effective voice. (SKELETON CREW) Ryan Wasoba

GO DOWNLOAD: "I Carry A Gun"