Western Divide are new on the LA punk hardcore scene, but their skills as a band are far from infantile. Their debut album “Fall In Love To This” is a venture dripping in anger, saturated with a plethora of musical ideas and accentuated with some truly catchy lyrics.
Members of Western Divide previously worked together when performing as Kid Armor, a hardcore punk rock outfit, releasing two albums and gaining a strong following of local fans. Kid Armor called it a day in September of last year, and Western Divide has risen from their ashes to bring forward gritty but forward thinking punk.
The title track “Fall In Love To This” sweeps in with an ear-catching guitar solo and solid drumbeat; the heavy snarled lyrics cut across with an assured dominance. The vocal is a throaty but subtly melodic scream, writhing in a heap of aggression. The track feels to me like a definite rally call, with the instrumental of the chorus taking the form of an incriminating helter-skelter of expectation. Though the anger of the lyrics and vocal are paramount, there is a level of confidence and assurance to the track driven from the calculated instrumental and well placed harmonies.
Second track ‘Gunslinger’ spiked my interest. The opening instrumental, whilst crystal clear with punk intention, has soft tones woven through it. There’s a far more kooky and adventurous feel to this track from the get go, it’s adorned in riffs and hooks whilst maintaining a very strengthened backbone of percussion.When the chorus broke, I became infatuated with the balance created by the shock of the dual vocals. The chorus actually edges far further towards indie than hardcore punk, and it feels adventurous and unique putting the two so close together.
After ‘Gunslinger’ I was hoping for more of the same hybrid style but ‘Silent Panic’ didn’t quite hit the spot. The opening instrumental has a defined melody and builds with some pretty intricate layering, but the pattern of the vocals and lyrics don’t quite fit on top until the pre-chorus. It’s all just a little bit too off-beat, which leaves a feeling of slight uncomfortableness around the opening. As the song progresses however, the vocal track and instrumental slot back into each other with an attitude drenched edge – it’s a perfect mosh-pit opener. ‘Silent Panic’ comes into it’s own at around 1:20, where it seems to find it’s feet with a stomping structure. The absolute highlight of this track is the repetition of ‘it’s just a turn for the worse’, the lyric is clear and absolutely built to be shouted by a room of people.
Short and subdued central track ‘Displacement’ is driven by a strong distorted baseline, and here the feeling of the song matches perfectly with the lyrics. It’s a simple and sorrowful track and possibly the most co-sympathetic moment on the record, with the soft touch of a twinkling of a piano leading out into the latter half of the album.
Opening with another drum solo that’s seeped in ambiguity ‘Time And Space’ returns to a truly spiked anger, the forceful aggression in the opening of this track is so paramount that it verges on jarring in it’s intensity. However like ‘Gunslinger’ before it, ‘Time And Space’ holds a sudden surprise as the harshness falls away and a piano dances and reverberates across the track. Following behind it comes a soft and sickly-sweet female vocal; the contrast between the two voices is striking, the track would definitely benefit from more of it as the sudden softness works to inject a validity to the rage, and makes the emotions conveyed far more believable.
Longest album track ‘Warner Avenue’ is, in my humble opinion, the perfect new-age punk song. The opening verse caught my attention instantly; because admittedly the D-I-Y acoustic sound sits far closer to the soft-punk genre I am heavily more acquainted with, but also because the anticipation of what would come to meet it next. By now I knew not to expect the norm from Western Divide, and here they do not disappoint. There’s a sense of grandiose about ‘Warner Avenue’ as the synthy sounds, guitar and percussion build fluidly and with intelligence. The main hook-line of the lyrics “sure I’m giving up” is insanely catchy as it repeats through each verse, and I think healthier balance between both vocalists is what makes this song so special. Each element of the track compliments the next, making it perhaps the most thoughtful song on the record. The repetitive nature of the progressions through ‘Warner Avenue’ make it easy to latch onto, and as a whole it’s adorned in originality, great solos, and utterly relate-able stand-out lyrics.
Final track ‘Reprise’ is a sun tinged bouncing anthem. To me, it’s one of those songs where the overall sound perfectly conveys an emotion. In this case that emotive state is that of one nonchalantly accepting rock bottom, and judging how far the climb back up is. The track feels like a full and very natural ending to ‘Fall In Love To This’, it’s fast and heavy whilst still peppered with elements of the unexpected, drawing the album to a assured and defiant close.
‘Fall In Love To This’ is an exceedingly ambitious album, and as a debut from a new band it has to be applauded for the sheer thought that has gone into calculating each song, from each instruments role to the storytelling in the lyrics. Anger takes precedence on this record and whilst emotion allows the tracks to thrive, it’s the unpredictable ideas and oddities in sound which truly put ‘Fall In Love To This’ a cut above the rest.