Remember the late 90s? Of course you do. The country’s economy was booming, war was rumor and the biggest political scandal was the leader of the free world’s inability to keep it in his pants. It marked a transitional era for music too. Grunge had played its last distorted G chord, someone decided pop-punk was not an oxymoron and boy bands were unbearably taking the world by storm. The rage, depression and feelings of repression that had embodied the Goth and punk movements of the 80s had faded.
Punk and peace don’t mix.
With little to complain about, something began to emerge from the underbelly of rock. A different type of emotion started to surface. Not the against-authority rage characterized by the likes of Black Flag or Minor Threat but rather a “my parents are fighting again, my girlfriend cheated on me and my ADHD doesn’t allow me concentrate” distress call from suburban teens.
Playing in juvenile dance halls and high school gymnasiums, talented kids began unleash these bottled up emotions through experimental riffs and Robert Frost-like lyrics. The sing-a-long rock ballads and easy-to-remember chorus lines were dissipating and in their place screeching teens sang their throated, indecipherable lyrics. It was emotion, raw emotion, before corporate America stepped in, slapped skinny jeans and black hair dye on it and labeled it Emo.
Party Like Thieves is a flashback to that raw emotion. The emotion of Saves the Day, Braid, Mock Orange, No Knife and Jimmy Eat World circa Static Prevails. Though lacking in musical prowess – trios tend to be limited – Party Like Thieves make up for it on their four-song EP The Surrender with fist-pounding beats and whining lyrics that take you back to that day you were crying in your room after that bitch/bastard that tore your heart out.
At the center of the band is drummer Nick “I’d like to buy a vowel” Chmel who keeps your dancing feet moving throughout The Surrender. Bassist Ross Franklin and guitarist/vocalist Jeremy Van Zandt do their part to rely heavily on power chords and palm mutes to assure you don’t feel completely out of the punk realm.
To his credit Van Zandt sells his whining with authentic emotion. Part Chris Conley, part Ben Weasel – I didn’t think such a combination could exist either – he sets the tone from the outset with bursts of emotion that, like a time machine, transport you back to the beginning of an era.
In “Inertia” you immediately get the feeling you’ll need to hold on as you fall into a fast and turbulent ride. Making the warning “we’re expecting heavy turbulence as we begin our descent into Denver,” more literal than metaphorical.
True to their emotional ancestors, Party Like Thieves still make manifest the angst of depressed youth throughout the EP, never more evident than in “Traytables” where we’re reminded that regardless of how we try to move on, we pretty much just stay in the same place.
Though all four tracks on the EP are likely to find a place in your memory, if not your heart, the track that will most certainly stick is “Ghost.” Stellar tones, excellent riffs and Chmel’s exceptional beats set this track apart and leave the listener not just wanting, but hoping for so much more in the near future from Party Like Thieves.
With The Surrender, Party Like Thieves make it clear they are not just some spin-off of False Colours (of which Chmel is currently a member and Van Zandt a former member) but their own, power-punk trio set to make a name for themselves in increasingly popular Denver scene and beyond.
Emotion is back.
The Surrender EP was recorded at Black In Bluhm with Chris Fogal (The Gamits) in Denver and is available on the bands bandcamp site from the link below. You can also stream the full EP on our site HERE.
If you are in Denver and want to catch them live, check the related show below where they’ll be supporting Aficionado and Mixtapes tomorrow.