True BrewEpitaph Records
By Bobby Gorman
There’s a scene in High Fidelity where Rob, portrayed by John Cusack, is re-organizing his record collection for the umpteenth time. One of his friends, Dick, comes in and asks how he’s arranging it this time to which Rob replies: autobiographically.
A truly great album has that ability. They’re albums that surpass just mere background music and become a permanent fixture in that scene of your life – so much so that a single album or song will always be eternally connected to that moment.
Millencolin‘s legendary Pennybridge Pioneers is one of those albums. Yes, musically it’s a basically perfect punk album; but for me it’ll always be a reminder of Paris and the Champs D’Elysee. I’ll remember walking down the famed street, popping into the three story (now defunct I believe) HMV and buying the album, rushing back to the hotel to play it in the DVD player. I laid on the bed and closed my eyes and listened to the album for hours and eventually had to jimmy open the DVD player once the disc became stuck. The album is more than just mere music to me, it is a memory and a story – a part of my life that I’ll carry forever.
True Brew – Millencolin‘s latest album and first one in seven years – hasn’t created that ever lasting memory of its own yet, but it has definitely rekindled that forgotten gem. For, unlike their somewhat bland 2008 album Machine 15, True Brew is a return to form for the Swedish four piece. The band has delivered a unrelentingly persistent punk rock album that feels sincere, unrushed, energized and, well, true.
Self-recorded and self-produced, True Brew is not a step in a new direction for the band. Instead – like Pennywise or Bad Religion or Lagwagon – you already know what to expect from a Millencolin album. Anyone who’s been around for 23 years with the same line-up will always have certain similarities within the albums’ sonic structures and anyone searching for a good old fashion punk-rock/skate-punk album needn’t look any further.
The album pulls from a variety of influences – Autopilot Mode blasts through with a thick Bad Religion kick off, Perfection Is Boring borrows the Pennywise‘s “woah” structures until it fades into nothing while Wall Of Doubt begins with a deceptively moving piano introduction that builds up into a technical skate-punk powerhouse. Yet the album is always Millencolin in the way The Bouncing Souls are always Bouncing Souls. It’s well polished while still being raw. Technically proficient and varied, but constantly fierce and, of course, Nikola Sarcevic’s vocals are unlike any ever put on record. His distinct intonation and accent create a pop-punk singer incomparable to anyone else in the scene.
The weird thing about True Brew is how the band is struggling with themselves. Sonically, the band is confident, absolutely sure of themselves with every chord and harmony but lyrically the band is at a crossroads. They’re always confident yet are trying to find themselves in an ever growing world and seem to be defending their ideals. Sense and Sensibility, the lead single, tackles their confusion with an ever growing racist political party growth in Sweden as they attempt to understand how something so prolifically dumb is gaining momentum again. Something I Would Die For showcases a man going out on a limb to find what he wants to live and die for, trying to understand how he’s perceived from those that he love. And don’t even get me started on Mr. Fake Believe.
Despite the many gems, the clear highlight comes from the title track, True Brew – this is the song that will create the soundtrack to countless nights and innovations around the world. It will serve as inspiration to those creative individuals looking for their passion as the first verse lays it out: Some say that nothing lasts forever, but no-one knows what happens when you die, so if this is all there is it’s now or never, life’s too short to not give it a try.
It’s a love song for doing what you want, avoiding the nine-to-five struggles and investing in a new life motto (a lifestyle focused on creativity called True Brew like the way Minor Threat created a new life style with Straight Edge). The chorus is rousing, impassioned and sincere where they Sarcevic sings “I don’t wanna live my life doing stuff I don’t like to do, I just want to spend my time on creating something true.”
It’s a simple philosophy, but one that’s harder to live by sometimes. Millencolin are doing it though and while I hope it won’t take them seven years to record a new album – if it takes them that long to write an album this good, then it’s well worth the wait.