Old BonesVictory Records
By Cole Faulkner
It’s clear why Victory Records jumped at signing Richmond, VA pop-punk act Broadside. Their polished combination of slick pop melodies and catchy vocals bare all the markings of a radio-ready success. The choruses are big and tempo unyieldingly upbeat. All of that should make Broadside out to be the next New Found Glory or Fall Out Boy, yet the execution of on their debut full length, Old Bones, feels more “meh” then “yeah.” Try as they might, the aspiring quintet just can’t seem to make their hooks meaningful beyond their initial impact, hindered further by a layer of thematic topics that aspire to little more than describing fleeting summer flings articulated at the level of grade-school crushes.
In a word, Broadside is generic. They lack the sophistication of The Wonder Years and the stay-in-your-head loops of Yellowcard. Tellingly, it’s taken more than a dozen repeat listens to really get to know any one song’s distinct traits. But even then, they can be summed up in a few tired characteristics. Take the sugary hooks framing the fond memories of an affection long since past in “Come & Go.” “I should have married you, you should have carried my name, it feels like I buried you, it feels like you did the same”, sings the band’s lead vocalist in a classic case of adhering to the I’ll-never-get-over-you pop song mould (sadly this is one of Old Bones’ most memorable passages). Other’s like “Playing In Traffic” fill the bill for the obligatory we’re-so-different-we-even-have-hardcore-vocals spot during the final verse (ever heard of Four Year Strong?). And then there’s a whole whack of filler that goes down smooth but still goes in one ear and out the other (“Damaged Kids,” “Old Bones,” “A Better Way,” etc…). Broadside just can’t seem to land anything that can be described as more than unremarkable.
As far as pop-punk talent goes, Broadside is yet another example of capable and skilled musicians doing little to push themselves as artists. Old Bones is an incredibly docile creature that does what it’s told without adding much of its own flare. In essence, just about every band that Broadside brings to mind does it better and more distinct. All in all, Old Bones is like a stylishly decorated cake with no flavour – it just lacks substance.