New York's Bridge And Tunnel could only come from the basement. Their rough-hewn pop-minded punk oozes the sort of DIY aesthetic that proved the defining ethos for a wide swath of agitated guitar rock during the '90s. Like the finer groups of the steadfastly indie basement underground, Bridge And Tunnel have evolved from that scene's provincial musical mindset. They boast just enough pop smarts to avoid sinking in the quicksand of tuneless haranguing that is the Achilles' heel of most stalwart punkers.
On the five-song Indoor Voices EP, Bridge And Tunnel don't burnish any of their previously recorded jagged edge. With a band like this, the anger must be palpable, the sincerity genuine, the hooks addictive. A band that can effectively wed those qualities is about as easy to find as an SUV at an anarchist bike shop. Jawbreaker serve as the point of reference for anyone attempting to coat their rage in a sheen of melody. Bridge And Tunnel don't quite match that hallowed band's lyrical brilliance, but they are capable of writing melodies that echo in your mind long after the music stops. Whereas B&T previously wore their influences too loudly on their sleeves (Jawbreaker, Hot Water Music), the band now succeed in distilling those influences into something unique.
What defines their sound is tunefully hollered male/female vocals over spidery guitar riffs and careening drums. The band tinker with song structures and construct their music out of non-traditional riffs and arresting vocal patterns. At their best, the songs are uplifting and celebratory. The bridge in "Predecessors" hints at the magic this band are capable of, wherein they allow the melody to overtake the roar. In the wrong hands, these songs could just as easily have slid into the murk of overwrought and overdone emocore. Yet Bridge And Tunnel are skillful enough to sidestep such pitfalls.
Throughout, the quartet exhibit good, old fashioned passion. They do so artfully and intelligently, giving brains to the brawn. Though the production robs some dynamics and clarity, what bleeds through provides for a rewarding listen.
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