Few artists have successfully managed a series of self-titled albums without causing some form of confusion. Franz Ferdinand threatened to do it back in 2004, but broke their promise with the release of You Could Have It So Much Better. Peter Gabriel did it in the ’70s and ’80s, though the final in his series has since become better known as Security. Caetano Veloso also has numerous self-titled albums, which have become known by their leadoff tracks (“Tropicalia,” “Irene,” “A Little More Blue,” et al). And then of course Weezer has three albums which can be identified by the background color on each one’s cover. Los Angeles punks The Bronx likewise are drawn to the idea of naming each album after themselves, with each album being easily identified by its cover, though I have yet to hear anyone call them “The Teeth Album,” “The Psychic Album” or “The Flamingo Album.”
Yet, while some bands or artists might feel an aversion to choose new titles for their albums out of some kind of vision or, perhaps, laziness, in the case of The Bronx, the only reasonable explanation could be their streamlined, linear, visceral approach to music itself. Every album is as much Bronx as the one before it, so therefore, why not just leave them all eponymous? “The Flamingo Album,” as I like to refer to the third in their series, picks up more or less where The Bronx left off, in which case I mean the band’s debut. While their second album was more or less a continuation of their raw, throat-ripping punk rock, its sound was a bit more eclectic, even swinging toward the likes of stoner metal and Pogues-like drunken melodicism. Here, however, they’ve honed in on their most lethal of instincts, churning out what is merely a solid collection of burly punk rock throwdowns.
The album kicks off with “Knifeman,” which isn’t the best name for a superhero or villain, but a pretty brutal rocker, nonetheless. “Inveigh” shuffles like Manowar without the loin cloths, and “Past Lives” injects a slightly sunnier and incredibly catchy melody beneath frontman Matt Caughthran’s gravelly howls of “maybe in the next life/ maybe in the netherworld!” Yet “Pleasure Seekers” gives it some healthy competition as far as singles potential goes, with its own fist-pumping refrain of “desperation is our inspiration!” And just as I think the band’s tapped themselves out on hits, along comes “Six Days a Week,” another anthem worthy of all the acclaim that bands like Against Me! have accrued of late.
It’s entirely possible that The Bronx stick with eponymous titles as a sort of punk rock exercise in snotty obnoxiousness. But then again, this Southern California foursome doesn’t exactly subscribe to Johnny Rotten’s “no future” outlook. In fact, beneath their jagged exterior lies a group that’s written some spectacular pop songs. Just don’t tell that to the dudes getting body checked in the pit.
At the Drive-In – Vaya
Fucked Up – The Chemistry of Common Life
Hot Snakes – Suicide Invoice
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.