Symptoms + Cures
31 August 2010
by Mike Strata
For a moment there it looked for all the world like Comeback Kid were heading down the same career path as late 90s/early 00s melodic hardcore heroes Stretch Arm Strong. Fast, catchy, posi sound? Check. Breakout album leading to more “mainstream” success? Check. Revolving door of member ins and outs? Check.
For all Stretch Armstrong’s likeability and anthemic chant alongs, they went out with a whimper sometime around 2005, just around the time that Comeback Kid’s star was firmly in the ascendancy. Fortunately for Andrew Neufeld and his crew of crushing Canucks, 2007’s Broadcasting saw them take a different route to their flexible forbears, eschewing the straight ahead catchiness of previous releases for an altogether more dramatic sound and cementing their position as genre leaders. With Neufeld stepping up to the mic in the wake of the loss of former vocalist Scott Wade, the band seemed even more invigorated, more vitriolic and with a fresh sense of purpose.
Fast forward three years to 2010, the stability afforded by the band’s solid lineup (which has barely changed since 2007) has led to great expectations for Comeback Kid’s latest opus, Symptoms + Cures. The disc’s running time of 39:57 would suggest that we’re not in for short, sharp shock of a traditional hardcore release, but screw running times, what does it sound like? Opener ‘Do Yourself A Favour’ bolts out of the gates with a ferocious intensity akin to Baltimore bruisers Trapped Under Ice, especially when all the instruments save a lone kick drum drop out to leave Neufeld’s anguished bark firmly in the spotlight. Its bluster and bile ensure that it’s hardly an opener that can be accused of “playing it safe”, however it doesn’t exactly stray outside the boundaries of the Comeback Kid v2.0 template the band created for Broadcasting.
Listen to ‘Do Yourself A Favour’ by Comeback Kid:
‘Crooked Floors’ follows on in much the same vein, leaving the distinct suspicion that Symptoms + Cures is the sound of a band consolidating rather than trying anything new. Suspicions, however, are there to be proved wrong, and with the one-two salvo of ‘G.M. Vincent & I’ and ‘Because Of All’, the band blow said suspicions right out of the water. Both tracks are melodic without being too poppy, catchy without being cheesy – reminiscent of Comeback Kid v1.0 and yet beefed up, more developed, more dangerous. ‘Because Of All’ in particular stands out with its powerful refrain being repeated over and over to the point of it becoming almost mantra-like. Other notable tracks are ‘The Concept Stays’ and ‘Balance’, featuring powerful guest appearances from A Wilhelm Scream’s Nuno Pereira and Cancer Bats’ Liam Cormier respectively, the album’s title track (which reverts to the dramatic hardcore sound of Broadcasting) and ‘Magnet Pull’, which veers wildly between an almost pop-punk sound and what can really only be described as hardcore balladry.
Comeback Kid have drawn on the strengths of their back catalogue to create an amalgam that is diamond-hard and yet with a punch that is more than a little melodic (although not as overtly catchy as 2005’s Wake The Dead). Never resorting to cheesy, cleanly sung choruses, Comeback Kid’s hooks are boisterous and gruff, like Tony Soprano the morning after an evening down at Bada Bing. The band lives up to its name yet again, and fans both old and new should definitely find something to enjoy on Symptoms + Cures – this is the sound of a band not only finding its feet, but learning to run.
Sounds Like: The highlights of every other CBK record smooshed together for your listening pleasure
Top Tracks: G.M Vincent & I, Because Of All
Comeback Kid – Symptoms + Cures tracklisting:
Do Yourself a Favour
G.M. Vincent & I
Because of All
The Concept Stays
Symptoms and Cures
Pull Back the Reins