The modern hardcore pantheon has always felt fragmented, at least to a relative outsider like myself. The New York hardcore kids listen to their stuff, the West Coast hardcore kids listen to theirs, the DC kids listen to theirs, and so forth, and then the situation's further complicated by divisions into various subgenres, from post-hardcore like Quicksand and the like to more metal-ish stuff, all the way down to that bastard child of indie-rock and hardcore called emo. And sure, some of those kids listen to all different kinds of things -- it's the bands that always seem off in their own little worlds, more often than not. How often does a full-on New York hardcore band break down and get poppy? Or a Santa Cruz skatecore band play a contemplative ode about the rain? Trust me, it's a safe bet that Earth Crisis aren't going to start writing sweet love songs any time soon. (And who knows what might happen if they did?)
So, in comes The Movielife, whose second full-length, This Time Next Year, bridges The Hardcore Gap. The album melds emo/indie-rock, hardcore, and pop seamlessly -- I haven't heard much like this, I have to say, just in terms of the way things flow together. Tracks like "I Hope You Die Soon" and "Another Friend" are nearer NY hardcore than anything else, with lots of "gotta be true" lyrics and super-speedy tempos, but then they throw in stuff like "It's Monday And Raining," a slower, much more melodic Overwhelming Colorfast-style tune, or the impassioned breaks in "10 Seconds Too Late" and "Pinky Swear." The band's sound brings to mind folks like NOFX, Avail, and The Explosion, but with a serious infusion of melody in all the places you'd least expect it.
For those who're worried, be assured that the swing towards the quieter, sweeter side of things doesn't mean all the tracks here are vocalist Vinnie Caruana whining about love-gone-wrong (although some of us happen to like that sort of thing, too). These guys are straight from the streets of New York, and that upbringing really comes into play in the lyrics; nearly every other song on here coming off as a bitter "fuck you" to somebody or other. Read the words if you need evidence: "Lose my number means stop calling me" ("Deal With It"); "And I hope that somehow by the end of the day you'll spit some teeth" ("I Hope You Die Soon"); "I need to know where I stand 'cause I don't need another friend" ("Another Friend"); etc., etc., you get the idea... It may get wearing to some folks, because there's some pretty standard hc posturing going on, but I, for one, say it's good to see that somebody can still blend melody and fist-in-the-air hardcore and make it something new.