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The Break : self-titled

REVIEW: The Break: The Break
5.19.2002 by Sean

The Break: s/t [Doghouse, 2002]

Three words? Melodic punk wow!

As "Empty" surges from the speakers with thick, quick guitars and slammed drums, it feels like I'm about to hear a Hives-hybrid, a messy, guitar onslaught. When John Waverka's lyrics butt in, however, the tune swerves, changes directions, headed straight into melodic punk - no ifs, ands or buts - but it's still bristling with energy, dense with tight guitarwork. The quintet knows how to play their instruments - these aren't sixteen year-olds in mohawks - and they avoid the inane pop-punk of Blink 182. The Break's press material boasts that the band "did not re-invent punk rock - they just do it better". And to be perfectly honest, if we judge the group by their opening track... that may just be true.

The Break's greatest strength is melody: Waverka sings with gravelly force, but he treats singing the songs, as his prime responsibility. We don't hear yells and whoops, nor growls, nor self-conscious wordplay. Waverka doesn't show off, he simply sings. Sings, sings and sings. He carries the tune, sustains the energy, brings the music to the forefront. Music is so often buried under the noise of punk rock - here, it's showcased. What's more, this isn't watered down Sum 41 nonsense - it's still loud, still coarse. Like Bad Religion, the Break takes punk vibrancy and pairs it with the anthemic crunches of modern rock. Sure, it's not high art, but it's thrilling and intense, it's angry without being nasty.

Sadly, the album isn't completely consistent. "Profit Motive" is an alt-rock yawn - innocuous radio fare. "Wait for the Wheel" shows good effort, but isn't able to sustain its lighter, Foo Fighters style. And as with most punk, the songs tend to run together. Still, the Break know what they're doing - cuts are kept short, most around the 2:30 mark: "Live a Secret" takes a mere fifty-nine seconds to get out, rock, and go quiet. "The Meaning of Regret" - quieter, slower - has enough hooks to grab, and doesn't fall into the "Good Riddance" trap of a punk band doing a wussy ballad. When it needs to get loud, it does, but the melody isn't lost in the crescendo.

As the public rails for high-volume guitar-rock on their "alternative" radio stations, the Break are exactly the thing that should be playing - they are fierce, fast and talented - alive but not childish. And they're from New Jersey.

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