Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Punk’s Spanish Love Songs Urge ‘Brave Faces Everyone’

Punk rockers Spanish Love Songs know that even on the darkest, desolate morning there's hope in waiting for the sun to come up. Brave Faces Everyone feels like a defining moment for the band.

Brave Faces Everyone
Spanish Love Songs
Pure Noise
7 February 2020

Despite the undoubted highs and life-enriching experiences that can come with being in a touring rock band, it’s difficult to imagine a profession more fraught with loneliness and self-doubt. The constant balancing act of building a connection with your audience whilst somehow maintaining your relationships can be emotionally and physically draining.

Since the release of their brilliant Schmaltz album, LA-based rockers Spanish Love Songs, have racked up the miles playing to ever more fervent crowds keenly affected by frontman Dylan Slocum’s rawly honest, heart on the sleeve lyrics, and the band’s rousing brand of indie punk. In that time, Spanish Love Songs have had to navigate growing popularity whilst avoiding the pitfalls that have curtailed so many bands before them. On new album Brave Faces Everyone, these experiences have translated into universally relatable, authentic anthems with a clear unifying link. Binding the songs together is the tacit acknowledgment that we all need love, empathy, and recognition to move forward.

The album opens with soft swells of synths and a solitary electric guitar as Slocum croons the line, “On any given day I’m a six of ten”, summarising in a single line what many of us feel. We may well be connected by our shared existential (or very real) angst but, by inference, maybe we are doing slightly better than average. The song then quickly kicks into gear as the band crash into a monumental chorus.

“Self Destruction (as a sensible career choice)” maintains the momentum. It’s a surging rocker that bounds to its delightfully cynical chorus of “It won’t be this bleak forever / Yeah right!” Few lyricists can manipulate their misery into such sing-a-long hooks as well as Slocum does on this album. “Generation Loss” reflects on an entire generation trying to navigate the world largely unaided, all while being endlessly judged. (“We’re so fucking tired of explaining ourselves.”)

“Kick” details the all to real plight of someone watching a loved one slide into hard drug addiction. Remarkably, despite the subject matter, it’s one of the catchiest songs on the album, with the band embracing a more pop-rock dynamic. It’s also a superb example of Slocum’s more storied songwriting approach as it’s a well-rendered character study rather than a purely autobiographical piece.

“Beach Front Property” is one of the albums subtler, more nuanced moments that finds the band amplifying the space in the song and heightening its emotional resonance. Followers of the band will already be well aware of the song “Losers” – a remarkable, authentic call to arms for the dispossessed and disenfranchised. Based on an almost classic rock ‘n’ roll riff, it’s probably the most straight-up, anthemic rock song in the band’s canon.

Those same followers may be a little surprised to see then a song entitled “Optimism” on the album. However, it is a remarkably self-aware track about the dangers of being dragged down into a world of endless pessimism and cynicism. To thrive, the band understand that they need to paint with more colors than just black and grey.

That’s not to say that Spanish Love Songs don’t know how to use those colors well. “Losers 2” is the comedown after the hedonism of “Losers” as the band identifies with the genuine struggle of trying to become even remotely financially independent in the age of raging inflation and prohibitive house prices. The stripped-back “Dolores” finds Slocum adopting a more Neil Young style approach as he communicates the crises of those on the edges of society.

Album closer “Brave Faces Everyone” captures the dichotomy that lies at the heart of the album. Torn between wanting to give up (“But I feel like burning down my life again”) and stealing oneself for what comes next, it exemplifies the confusion, anxiousness, and qualified optimism that lies at the heart of the album.

Brave Faces Everyone feels like a defining moment for the band. By furthering their sonic template, they show just how they have grown into dynamic and articulate songwriters while retaining their ability to write rabble-rousing, shout-along choruses. What’s more, Spanish Love Songs understand that even on the darkest, desolate morning there’s hope to be had in waiting for the sun to come up.

RATING 8 / 10