Release Date: Jun 17, 2014
Record label: Cult Records
Genre(s): Alternative/Indie Rock, Post-Hardcore, Punk Revival
‘Jaded & Faded’ - the second full-length effort from Brooklynites Cerebral Ballzy - is titled as if the five-piece were a washed-up crust-punk band making a comeback years after their heyday. Best known for their amped-up post-hardcore single ‘On the Run’ in 2011, that track ultimately defined the rest of their self-titled debut album - snotty-nosed, anti-authoritative and more hyperactive than a kid filled with sugar on a bouncy castle. Most songs on that record came in at the two minute mark - if not significantly less - and saw the Ballzy cement themselves as revivers of off-the-wall 80s hardcore; radio-friendly melodies injected into it all to dilute things ever so slightly for prime pop airtime.
The follow-up to Cerebral Ballzy’s stunningly succinct eponymous 2011 debut has taken long enough to now be ‘much anticipated’, although those intervening years haven’t been short on incident either. The hardcore skatepunk Brooklyn five-piece have since signed to Julian Casablancas’ Cult Records, lost and found a drummer and headlined the 2013 NME Radar Tour just for starters. Much more can change in three years, of course, and trepidation was the order of the day when, in 2012, singer Honor Titus preached to NME a mantra of, “more melody, more ideas, more thought”, and, somewhat oddly, hinted at a Philip Glass influence.
In thrall to the ‘80s hardcore vets and ‘90s skater-punk upstarts, Cerebral Ballzy’s sound is a potently slick treacle-sludge brew of noise, scraped knees and grazed riffing. Honor Titus, CB’s vocalist – flitting between 60-a-day snarls and melodic demi-croons – delivers aggression, inane hedonism and poignancy in equal measure, and, as well as acting as mouthpiece for the Brooklyn quintet on matters of the poetic and the philosophical (as recent interviews suggest). Their eponymous debut, much lauded at the time, was released a whoppin’ three years ago.
Following up on their explosive debut, Cerebral Ballzy return with a more languid style on their sophomore album, Jaded & Faded. Where 2011's self-titled effort was a driving, pedal-to-the-floorboards ripper, this album feels looser and more confident. Rather than rush through every song, Cerebral Ballzy give their gritty compositions more time to open up, a change likely spurred on by producer Dave Sitek (of TV on the Radio).
Skate punk, generally speaking, is a musical neighborhood of burnouts, drifters, and goofballs driven by a proud indifference to pretty much everything. The songs are typically short, the tempos are fast, and the subject matter is fun but also simplistic to the point of lunacy. Anyone want to take a stab at guessing what the Descendents were getting at on “I Like Food”? By calling their second full-length Jaded and Faded, Brooklyn’s Cerebral Ballzy clearly aim to settle further into their chill-brah, too-carefree-to-give-a-shit station in life, right? It would be easy to assume so, especially considering how the band’s 2011 debut cribbed squarely from the collective songbook of Black Flag, Adolescents, and a handful of other bands who stained Southern California’s easy-living image back in the day.
This New York hardcore crew have turned to TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek to produce their second album, and it's yielded pleasing results. The insane bark-and-roar has been reined back just enough to add a little clarity, and the pace is a tad less frenetic. The opening Another Day, all trebly fuzzed guitars, sees singer Honor Titus almost drawling his vocals over a backing track that, while you'd be hard pressed to say swings, has a relaxed ease a way removed from the normal military discipline of hardcore.
From the record company that brought you Har Mar Superstar's latest comes Cerebral Ballzy's sophomore (and sophomoric) album Jaded & Faded. The title is likely a reference to the band's clothes, as the record is steeped in superficiality. Producer Dave Sitek, hot off his excellent work with Kelis, is present enough here to be a credit on the press release, but there's not much on Jaded & Faded that would even suggest he was in the room, given how great his band, TV on the Radio, are handling punchy, urgent songs.