After the first three songs it'll be obvious CBK's fourth album is one of the finest albums of the year
The thing about Comeback Kid is that however awesome their albums are – and they’re normally pretty awesome – there’s always a but. Like, ‘Broadcasting...’ was awesome but not quite as exciting as the early stuff, or maybe ‘Turn It Around’ was awesome but nowhere near as good as CBK live. It’s with not a little pleasure, then, that we can say this wholeheartedly: ‘Symptoms + Cures’ is awesome. And it’s not just because Andrew Neufeld sounds a lot more comfortable fronting the band than he did on ‘Broadcasting...’, nor is it solely thanks to Eric Ratz and Kenny Luong’s warm, precise production or the fact the riffs are heavier and the gang vocals much bigger. Everything that has ever been likeable about CBK is present on ‘Symptoms + Cures’ – the circle-pit brutality of ‘Do Yourself A Favour’, ‘G.M. Vincent & I’ and ‘Balance’’s thrilling we’re-all-in-it-together choruses, the plain honesty of ‘Because Of All’ – but dialled up more than before. Frankly, it’s a joy from start to finish, and is the first CBK album that sounds like it was actually fun to make. Having said that, there’s a gritted-teeth intensity to ‘Symptoms + Cures’, both musically in the metallic battery of ‘Crooked Floors’ and lyrically in the confessional ‘Because Of All The Things You Say’, but considering the album deals with car crashes and relationship breakdowns of the worst kind that’s hardly a surprise. Nevertheless, the catharsis is positive rather than self-indulgent, so the drops in ‘Balance’ and ‘Magnet Pull’ feel like the work of a band not trying to be the fastest / hardest / heaviest punks in town but simply trying to make each other go, ‘Dude, woah…’ in the practice room. ‘G.M. Vincent & I’ in particular is a frenzy of excitement; next time you’re in a street fight ask the mugger to wait for three minutes and 33 seconds while you slam this on your headphones and then square up – you’ll be so utterly pumped you’ll destroy the thieving bastard. ‘The Concept Says’, too, is so tightly focused it feels like the riffs are going to spill out into the real world and it’s impossible to listen to without having a bit of a fist-clench. All of this is evident after the fi rst listen; hell, even after the first three songs it’ll be obvious that CBK’s fourth album is not only their best by some distance but one of the finest records of the year. Give it a few weeks, though, and it’ll still impress every time, because it’s a richly textured exercise in proving just how fresh and imaginative melodic hardcore can sound in 2010. What the fuck are Rise Against doing these days? Nothing as good as this, that’s for sure. Actually, when all’s said and done, there’s one strong negative against ‘Symptoms + Cures’: it makes the real world seem quiet, boring and very, very dull. No buts.