Following up from ‘Schmaltz’, a record that explored the inner workings of guitarist/vocalist Dylan Slocum with detail, was never going to be easy for punk quintet, Spanish Love Songs.
Looking outward, third LP ‘Brave Faces, Everyone’ sees not only the group take inspiration from the world that they’ve seen, but also seeks to find a balance between realism and optimism.
Unfurling slowly with ‘Routine Pain’, sharp and biting lyrics build towards a crescendo of distortion before diving into a furious run through of fuzzed keyboards, tom heavy drum beats, and sincerity. As the intimate bridge highlights the raw lyrical content, the group drive a crushing half-time coda home.
Whilst it would be easy to lean in on Slocum‘s passionate vocal delivery, the record delivers multiple layers and hooks to uncover throughout. While ‘Self-Destruction’ sees guitarist Kyle McAulay twist sweet melodies and wide chords alongside fevered howls, whereas ‘Generation Loss’ delivers a bouncing and stomping chorus that overshadows the dark narrative.
Whilst the chaos has been dialled down, the hooks and impact has been heightened, with ‘Kick’ delivering a time constrained and tightly packed track that offers multiple dynamics and nuances to uncover. Both this and ‘Beach Front Property’ highlight that Spanish Love Songs work best when utilising subtle deviations as opposed to sweeping turns.
With all punk being the most effective when an ugly truth is presented with a witty attitude and an irresistible hook, ‘Losers’ and ‘Losers, Pt. 2’ deliver a gut punch to an entire generation in less than ten minutes. Tackling limited financial options, independency, and stability, the tracks move between defiance, pessimism, loathing, and optimism with ease.
Adding sonic deviations during the second half of the record, ‘Optimism’ injects an acoustic swing to its verses. Yet again, by using a subtle expansion to their sound, Spanish Love Songs give the record a slight nudge to avoid a monotone soundscape.
Ending with the jagged title-track, ‘Brave Faces, Everyone’ concludes with a burst of defiance, pessimism, hope, and understanding. Whilst the record delivers countless choruses, riffs, and melodies that stand out, ultimately the message of the record that springs out is one of understanding and empathy towards one another.
Passionate, deadly accurate in its subject matter and brimming with melodies, Spanish Love Songs have returned with a record that tightens their sound and pushes them further.