The Break – S/T

Yet another band slithering its way out of New Jersey, The Break is not doing anything that hasn’t been done countless times before. They play the sort of straightforward punk rock that has worked for so many bands in the past, but fortunately, they do it rather well. They have more than enough emotion to fuel an album’s worth of material, as well as the energy and swagger to keep it interesting. These are the sort of songs that are recognizable after only a couple of listens.
The opening track, “Empty,” is damn near perfect. Without this song, there will be an empty space in any summer mix tape you make. It blasts away with the perfect blend of aggression and melody and is the sort of thing so many other bands try and fail to pull off. The problem? Well, the song raises the bar a bit too high, just barely beyond the grasp of the dozen songs that follow. That isn’t to say the rest of the album is intolerable, because that is a good distance from the truth, but things do have a bit of a stagnant feel at times.
“While We Breath” keeps things moving in excellent fashion with a bit more of a punk edge to it, just before the album slows down a touch with a clump of tracks (“1.21 Gigawatts,” “After, Taste,” “Boxcutter,” “Profit Motive”) that give hefty nods to other mid-tempo and melancholy punk acts like Alkaline Trio and Samiam. Lined up one after the other, these songs suffer a bit from a feeling of redundancy, but “Father, Mother, Convict” has just what it takes to get things moving again and break the disc out of its minor slump. “Strength to Search Some More” and “Live a Secret” don’t hurt the new momentum, but they don’t exactly help it either, following that more middle-of-road pattern, and as the album begins to wrap itself up, the jangly guitars and polished melodies start to take over, with “Wait for the Wheel” sounding a great deal like older Jimmy Eat World, right down to portions of the vocals, and “The Distraction” bouncing between chugging power chords and more cutesy hooks. “The Possessed” is what Alkaline Trio would sound like if Matt Skiba stopped smoking and got the band listening to a little country music, and closing things out is the sappy and very Jimmy Eat World-esque “The Meaning of Regret,” ending the album on a much slower and less exciting note than the one on which it began.
This is one of those albums that I get, listen to, write about, and then don’t really know what to do with. It is a toss up between adding it to the collection, passing it along to a friend who may enjoy it more, or bringing it to the music shop with the used disc bin to see how much cash I can get for it. If I hold onto it, it could very well end up doing little more than collecting dust as it is repeatedly passed over for the bands it strives to sound like. On the other hand, if I opt to part with it, whether it be handing it off to a friend or to the clerk at the music shop, I could quite possibly end up kicking myself later when I find myself wanting to give it another listen.