SWMRS, Berkeley’s On Fire— Si Sharp -
‘So, first off, I hate you’.
The best opening line we’ve heard this year and even though the Californians are nearing their mid twenties on their fourth album, it demonstrates an adolescent anger that pops up throughout, with an impetuousness that could only come from the heart.
The album’s eponymous opener and lead single is ostensibly about the difference between the news reporting of a protest and the reality on the ground. It’s all well phrased sloganeering and it’s about getting shit done for a society that would rather they just shut their punk mouths and let the grown ups keep on fucking everything up. It’s direct to the degree that it namechecks Milo Yiannopoulis. This is every bit as clunky as it sounds, and it’s great.
Berkeley’s on Fire sounds like a punk band who haven’t been listening to much punk. The percussion mixes live and programmed drums and that approach is extended to the whole mix. Second lead singer Max Becker sounds almost electronic and provides a needed break from brother Cole’s more traditional West coast anglo-punk voice. The noughties loom large on Berkeley’s on Fire - there’s a groove to some of these songs that doesn’t sound far from punk funk and disco beats. Even the most straight up rock moment, Hellboy, has more than a passing resemblance to the new wave showman rock of The Hives.
Berkeley’s on Fire comfortably crosses over into something very accessible without feeling forced or cynical, and is our album of the week.