At times suffocating and uncompromisingly groove-focused, there’s no getting around the riffing Emergency EP out everywhere alternative rock is sold this August. You can’t have solid rock of any sort without some righteous riffage serving as a foundation to every sublime moment the music can offer, and in this sense, “Brace Yourself” is no different from the other tracks this band has released in the past. What sets it apart in my mind is its colorful aesthetic, which channels much of the group’s pop leanings into something metallic and slender in comparison to the wallop of mud many of their rivals are producing this year.
The chorus in this single features a wonderful manipulation of tension that, later on in the song, is turned around on us to yield nearly thirty seconds of pure cathartic bliss from 2:20 to 2:50. The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus are really good at utilizing atmospheric tones and textures without getting too spacy with the framing of their lyrics, unlike a lot of the other bands to arise from post-hardcore (outside of The Used), but this single takes their experimentation in a different direction than I expected. They’re still punky, but this has a non-production-related polish that makes it really stand out, even after a single listen.
Construction-wise, “Brace Yourself” is very much a post-hardcore track in the shape of a pop song. The delivery flirts with glam in the chorus, but other than that, there’s a case to be made that the band was listening to a lot of The Sword and The Dillinger Escape Plan when they were hammering out the EQ on the guitars. It’s a guilt-free crossover in so many important ways, and that’s tough to come by anymore.
I would have liked just a little more focus on the bassline in the grander scheme of things, but in the end, the concept that The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus were clearly playing with here justifies the limited low-end depth. There is such a thing as being too heavy with a groove, and they circumvented any chances of that by keeping things on a simpler scale in the bass department. Billions of hits on sites like Spotify have taught them a thing or two about making aesthetics that the masses can dig, yet I don’t think they’re letting that guide their creative goals at all (thankfully).
Longtime fans of The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and first-time listeners alike should find what they’ve compiled in “Brace Yourself” a more than worthy addition to any summer playlist, and it would surprise me a great deal if I were the only critic saying so. I haven’t heard the rest of The Emergency EP yet, but based off of this, I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on it this August. Summer needs its own soundtrack for so many reasons, and if you thought this season was going to be missing some choice rock thunder, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus have got something you need to check out here.
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