Captain, We’re Sinking – With Joe Riley (EP)

Captain, We're Sinking - With Joe Riley coverIt’s impossible to mention either Captain, We’re Sinking and the Menzingers (reviewed here) in the same sentence without acknowledging the tight relationship between the two bands. They not only share a hometown – Scranton, Pennsylvania – they also share a genuine bro-bond through the former’s Bobby Barnett and the latter’s Greg Barnett. Scranton isn’t a place I know well – my only time in the US was spent in Dallas – and nor am I that familiar with the town’s scene, with these two being the only bands I know. But on their respective and shared strengths there is definitely something in the Scranton water.

Like the Menzingers, Captain We’re Sinking play fast-paced pop-punk with a strong and passionate edge of breakneck desperation. I first came across them by way of the It’s A Trap EP (available free via If You Make It) and, on the back of that, their album The Animals Are Out. This latest EP boasts far superior production, highlighting the band’s melodic strengths and smoothing out the rough edges.

Opening track ‘The Ballad of Ichabod Crane’ is a bright and pronounced punk rock tune, and to these British ears the relationship between the Barnetts is clear through these intense vocals – with second lead vox provided by guitarist Leo Vergnetti. Occasional moments of delicacy emerge, which serve to emphasise the strengths of these powerfully emotional vocals. Its straightforward melodic punk approach stands in contrast to ‘Manners Are Their Own Reward’, featuring climbing guitar riffs in its pre-chorus and stabby verses which lend it a frenetic edge underpinned by the rapidly-barked vocals. Structurally it stands out from its predecessor, indicating that the band aren’t just a one-trick pony.

There’s an initially more mellow approach in ‘Foster Brothers’ with delicately picked guitar and softer-sung vocals in the intro before a mid-pace verse, but things rapidly pick up in the chorus with the repeated refrain “all my foster brothers gave up on me”. Without the lyrics in front of me I can’t get a solid feel on what the song’s about but there’s a strong vibe of lost identity and friendship-abandonment, as though the promise of the punk rock scene failed to deliver – a feeling almost everyone heavily infested in punk rock has probably felt at some point of another.

Blink and you’ll miss it, as these three tracks are over in under seven minutes. It’s a shame that there isn’t more on offer as With Joe Riley demonstrates that Captain, We’re Sinking have a lot to offer contemporary punk rock. Comparisons with the Menzingers, however inevitable, are entirely fair as the two bands share more than a few vocal and musical similarities, but it’s no bad thing when the tunes on offer are this solid. I eagerly look forward to where the band take themselves next, and Scranton is now even more firmly on my list of scenes to watch.

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