One of the joys of writing for a small music blog is sifting through artist submissions, hearing their pitches and deciding whether or not their music is a good fit for our blog. Generally these submissions come with a brief blurb where the artists describe themselves in the most alluring way they know how. Some are quite effective, others… not so much. Mostly these blurbs end up being basic genre descriptions, but occasionally you get a pitch that catches you off guard and raises a few eyebrows. For instance, when I received an email from a band claiming to be “an easy-core Dropkick Murphys”, I have to admit my immediate reaction was “there’s no way that sounds good.” After listening through A Crash Republic’s new EP Homewreckers: Sweet Apathy however, I also have to admit that I was wrong.
A Crash Republic is the kind of band that consistently shatters your expectations. When the opening track Last September kicks in it really does seem to be a Dropkick Murphys song minus the Celtic bits. It has the big power chords, the driving drums, and two vocalists that both sound miraculously like Al Barr each singing the same bar-fight melodies he was famous for. But once it hits the second verse the power chords give way to dueling easy-core guitars reminiscent of Four Year Strong, which should seem out of place, but somehow flow effortlessly out of the first chorus. Before you even have time to express how impressed you are by this, the lead guitar takes off in a bombastic solo the likes of which has been missing from rock music for the better part of a decade. It’s the kind of choice that feels over the top in the best possible way: definitely a little schlocky but so perfectly placed and cathartic that it outweighs the possible negatives.
A Crash Republic’s energy is infectious throughout the EP, leaping from riff to riff, nailing satisfying hook after hook, and swinging into surprisingly virtuosic guitar solos in almost every song. Because of the impressive musicianship and the memorable hooks the formula never gets boring either. This is aided by the central narrative of Homewreckers: Sweet Apathy, which is conceptually the first of three EPs about a man descending into anarchist ideology and committing himself to counterculture. Lyrically it lands somewhere in the vicinity of American Idiot-era Greenday or Die For Your Government-era Anti-Flag: anti-establishment anthems with enough pop sensibility to make you want to listen and enough grit to convince you they mean what they’re saying. It’s quite literally the kind of anarchy the whole family can get into.
All in all Homewreckers: Sweet Apathy is thoroughly enjoyable. One of the greatest strengths of pop punk as a genre is it’s ability to be fun no matter what the subject matter and A Crash Republic do not deviate from that norm in the least. While the content may not be the most earth-shattering thing we’ve ever heard, it’s the perfect subtext for angsty shout-alongs and push-pits, which is exactly what this kind of music is meant for. Unfortunately, as with most bands in this scene, A Crash Republic are the kind of band that you’ll like if you’re a fan of their native genres, but probably won’t have much appeal to you otherwise. They’re music is unique within their context, which makes them a must hear for fans of old-school pop punk, but they also don’t break the mold in way that makes them transcend their labeling. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that though, so pop Homewreckers: Sweet Apathy into the cassette deck of your 2002 Taurus and let the angst consume you.
Score: 6.8 (Solid)
Released: February 1, 2019