Bracket – When All Else Fails

When All Else Fails

While not the most well-known of the Fat Wreck line-up, Bracket are definitely my favorite. When I stumbled upon their previous album, Novelty Forever, I was taken back a bit. It was so odd to listen to this band, with their unique vocal stylings and not-quite-punk punkishness. Well, that and the fact that they’re willing to offend anyone but don’t take the cheap, Blink182 way out of it but throwing their offenses in your face.
At surface level, Bracket is a typical Fat Wreck band. They play fast, energetic, and witty pop-punk. But listen a bit more, and you’ll see they’re not so much of a punk band as a power-pop band turned up a few notches. The drums don’t always fall into your typical punk drum rhythm, and the guitars are just stellar, driving and powerful. But, honestly, Bracket is all about the vocals. Marty and Zack sing almost every word of every song together, their voices similar but just off enough to provide a very disconcerting yet cool effect. If you haven’t heard it, you must.
The album starts off at full-speed with the quirky, “Everyone is Telling Me I’ll Never Win, If I Fall in Love with a Girl from Marin.” “Her shit-stained smile is out of style. It’s been that way for quite a while.” The guitars are high-power and driving, just the way this band does them best, and the drums are furious. The songs don’t quite meet the furious energy of that first track, but the band sounds better when they’re slowed down and more poppy, like on “Parade,” a song driven by those stellar guitars that are just all over the place. Fans of Novelty Forever will fell comfortable with “Spazz,” a bit more poppy, with the dual-vocals coming in just on the chorus. The more energetic pop-punk “Cynically Depressed” has muffled vocals for a completely different effect. “Warren’s Song Part 9” comes across almost as a ballad, oddly enough, with a slow, bouncy beat. After the rollicking and fun “Me Vs. the World,” “You/Me” slows things down about as far as this style of band could ever do. It doesn’t work nearly as well for Bracket as do the fast songs, for they come across as typical here, but things speed up again for the stellar “S.O.B. Story,” which highlights the excellent guitar, the poppy beat, and the great, weird, drawn-out vocals. Such a great song. “Suicide Note” is odd, with an almost synthesized drum-beat and echoey vocals, the guitars way way in the background. But “Yoko Oh No” is almost as fast and frenzied and fun as the first track, with killer guitar riffs. And “A Place in Time” finishes things off about as pop-punk as they get.
Bracket has released several albums, and it’s obvious they’re no longer dependent upon the cheap swear word and bodily reference to offend or titillate. This band has matured beyond most other pop-punk bands in its genre, but they haven’t lost that biting edge to the lyrics, which always seem bitter and disheartening while looking at that humorously. And, while the vocals seem much tighter, they’re still just unusual enough because of that dual-vocal quality to make it so interesting.