The Brokedowns – ‘Life Is A Breeze’

By Mike Petruccelli

If you’re expecting a punk band like The Brokedowns to put out their third album ‘Life is a Breeze’ and employ a drastically different approach from their first releases, you are wrong, they aren’t that type of band. However, if you consider the full scope of their catalog and look at the quality of songwriting since their earlier days, then you might be surprised at at their development. Because when a band seems to perfect their own style but still have the ability to surprise their listeners, you know it’s because they have their shit together more than it is them having extremely good luck.

The first thing you will hear on this record is a fade in of segaulls, ocean waves, and a Jamaican man describing the beautiful surfing weather on the beaches of Joliet, IL. Eventually, this kicks off the record into songs like ‘Joliet, The Maui of the Midwest’, ‘Life is Breeze’, and ‘Murder Junkie/CPA’. If you listen closely, you will hear a style by the Brokedowns that will sound a bit more melodic than their previous albums. However, their power and clever songwriting does not get buried in their execution, and their title track shines almost like a mission statement for the whole album: “There are no horrors out there you don’t choose to see you best believe / it’s always been a right time right place for me / so why choose a life that’s spent on your knees / life is a breeze.”

If there is a noticeable change, it’s that the exchanges between bassist Jon Balun’s heavy, raspy yells and guitarist Kris Megyery’s gruff tenor. This keeps the tracklisting unexpected and makes every song a roulette of some sort. This feeling of spontaneity can also be seen with an odd variety of songs as well. For example, ‘Everything is Immoral’ – an anti-religious, minute long song will be followed by ‘Born on the Bayou Too’, a catchy uptempo song about the brutal winters in the Midwest. Where on previous releases Balun was the mostly the primary singer, this album is a fifty-fifty effort that has Megyery taking the reigns as well. This trading of vocals mixed with catchy riffs, unique drum patterns, aggressive bass lines, and non-stop intensity showcases The Brokedowns strengths in full.

Furthering upon this fact, the latter half of the album does take a darker and more aggressive turn, but it doesn’t become overwhelming or stale. Songs like ‘Bless This Mess’, ‘Cash for Gold’ and ‘God Hates Math’ keep it short and sweet. These handful of closing songs manage to have special musical qualities that make them memorable, such as dual singing choruses with Balun and Megyery, odd audio soundbites, and even a guest appearance from Meat Wave’s front man Chris Sutter on ‘Keep Branson Weird’.

This eventually leads to the album’s end with ‘A Child’s Guide to Black Metal’. The songs starts with Megyery’s distorted vocals singing almost inaudibly to a clean guitar part. He continues on the ongoing theme of lyrically descriptive beach scenes and atheist commentary sprinkled throughout the album. The song then gives way to the band coming in for a triumphant ending and concluding with the repeating line “There’s no such thing as Hell.” The music eventually fades and the seagull and ocean audio comes back in for a brief moment to let the listener reflect a bit before fading out as well.

‘Life is a Breeze’ was most certainly a breeze to listen to (HEYYYOOO), proving that sometimes it’s better for a band to just do what they do best than to try and make a huge evolution in their later days. I would recommend it to anyone who is having trouble with seasonal depression or who just wants an extremely fun record to listen to on a snowy day.

MIKE PETRUCCELLI

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