The first temptation, in writing this review, is to drop a bunch of names. The need to compare The Briefs to the best Punk bands from 1977 to 1979 is almost overwhelming. But, after a second listen, a third, and an inevitable fourth, it turns out that The Briefs can best be compared to, well, The Briefs.
True, the first cut starts out sounding a bit like the band most known (unfortunately) for the song “I Wanna Be Sedated.” But really that sound comes from bass more than anything else. The track, “Orange Alert,” is about something new, yet commonplace in American households now — something unknown in ’77. Also true, the vocals on cut two, “Halfsize Girl,” are reminiscent of a band most known for an album titled Singles Going Steady. However, The Briefs’ instrumentation is completely different. And true, the title of the third song, “Destroy the USA,” reminds one of a song written by the late Joe Strummer’s old band; but lyrics, vocals and instruments are nothing like Strummer’s band. This can go on and on.
Fact is, The Briefs’ first album didn’t even come out until 2000. So, have The Briefs been influenced by the above (which we’ll leave unnamed) bands? Absolutely. The Briefs have been influenced by the entire punk scene of the `70s. Punk was created by a bunch of people disenchanted with the political, socio-economic, and musical scenes of the late `70s. Since then, Punk has mostly become bubble-gum fluff, interested in airtime and money, totally antithetical to punk’s true intent.
The Briefs bring the old feelings back with a vengeance. They rail against the current political climate with songs like “Orange Alert” (making fun of
America’s paranoia in the face of nothing), and “No More Presidents” (with lyrics like, “what’s the use of politics?“). The Briefs make fun of current culture with tracks like “Shoplifting at Macys” (about a pop-culture icon whose name will also not be dropped) and “Life Styles of the Truly Lazy.” The Briefs remind us of our Prozac nation with the cuts “Ephedrine Blues” and “Mystery Pill.” Once again, the list can go on and on.
The point is, The Briefs bring back all the anger, frustration and need for release that was heard over 20 years ago, but make them their own in a way that hasn’t been heard (with the exception of the Exploding Hearts: a name had to be dropped) in over 20 years.
This album is not a re-hash of your favorite punk bands. This album is a reminder, a refresher course, and a challenge to the current punk scene: Remember when we tried to change the world, instead of begging it to change us.
Exploding Hearts – Guitar Romantic
The Damned – Damned, Damned, Damned
Dead Boys – Young, Loud and Snotty