Nine months ago, before the coronavirus locked us all into our homes and forced us inside, Spanish Love Songs released the perfect pessimistic sad rock album to narrate the experience. Brave Faces Everyone was released on February 20th, 2020, and I have to admit it’s bloody fantastic. Self-proclaimed ‘grouch rockers’ Spanish Love Songs are a welcome addition to the pop-punk scene and Brave Faces Everyone saw the band hone in and clean up the sad rock sound of the previous record Schmaltz.
Whilst 2018’s ‘Schmaltz’ was a story of misery and self-loathing wrapped up in catchy singalong anthems, ‘Brave Faces Everyone’ focuses on being scared, “It gets harder, doesn’t it?”. This record is vulnerable and it allows listeners to relate to the struggles the band is going through, the world is scary and the singer & writer Dylan Slocum isn’t afraid to express his own fears. Lyrically, we’ve seen a change in tone from the humorous self-depreciation of the previous record into a more serious tone, the world is going to hell and the music has rightly grown up to match the world around it.
The record begins with gorgeous swelling synths from Meredith before the anxiety-ridden lyrics begin to be belted out, opener Routine Pain is a slow burner, building into a fist-pumping singalong laced with a relatability that a tear to my eye. As somebody who suffers from anxiety and depression, I have the biggest urge to scream along with Dylan, “Have you ever felt lower than everyone else? I’m feeling lower than anyone else/’Cause everything’s lower than everything else/I wanna see how much lower I can go” tugs on my heart and as an opener, this song does a perfect job at painting a picture of what Spanish Love Songs are about.
We then get a perfect blend into the second track on the album and this song is absolutely killer! Self Destruction digs deep into your brain and you will find yourself singing this song long after listening. We hear a continuation of the themes from the first song, “It won’t be this bleak forever” is another lyric you can’t help but singalong to and it is complemented by a simple yet catchy guitar hook and I can’t help but find myself feeling comforted by the bleak optimism of this track.
I’m not looking to run you through every song on the album here but I need to mention the third track, ‘Generation Loss’. Generation Loss feels like something that you would find on a Menzingers or Gaslight Anthem record and is laced with a feeling of yearning for a better life and bright, shiny guitars. Whilst musically, the song feels bright and hopefully, lyrically it’s quite the opposite as it’s depicting a lost battle with depression. If you take a moment to sit back and listen to the lyrics of this song, you’ll feel a wave of sadness take over. Depression is one of the hardest things somebody could go through and I am happy that the band took the time to write this mental health anthem. The chorus comes straight from the heart and hits you like a punch to the gut, “cause we’re just so fucking tired of explaining ourselves, We throw a pill down our throats, or ourselves into the ocean”. I think the best way to describe Generation Loss is simply important, it’s an important song that’s highlighting something that affects so many people globally.
Moving forward to ‘Losers’, a song originally released in 2019 but rerecorded for this EP, a powerful nihilist anthem and a perfect example of pop-punk at its core. It opens with a fast and punchy riff, followed by equally punchy drums and a gorgeous snare sound that breaths life kicking and screaming into the second half of the record. It’s a catchy song with a bleak tone that will once again find you singing along at the top of your lungs, “It gets harder doesn’t it?” really became the soundtrack of 2020 as the months went on.
Optimism (As A Radical Life Choice) is a rollercoaster, it’s an anxious four and a half minutes and it feels all too real considering how the year has been. Dylan continues to sing with gut-wrenching emotion and the bass riffs really bring this song home and whilst anxiety really is something everybody is feeling these days, I think it’s possible to feel reassured in the fact everybody else is feeling this way.
Brave Faces Everyone is the record everybody needed in 2020, it is a catchy and powerful delivery from the grouch rockers that holds your hand throughout the difficult struggles of life. Whilst I prefer the previous record ‘Schmaltz’, I am happy with the growth shown by Spanish Love Songs on this record. It’s okay not to be okay, it’s okay to feel anxious and sad, this record is proof of that, but just remember you’re not alone.
Below are some helpful links for those of you who are struggling with depression & anxiety. Please just remember, you’re not alone.