Of all the words used to describe Western Addiction, positive feels the least fitting. After all, the San Francisco quintet plays decidedly aggressive West Coast hardcore topped by the scratchy yowl of vocalist Jason Hall.
But positive appropriately describes the content of the groups third full-length. Yes, its called Frail Bray, and yes, song titles include Utter Despair and Deranged by Grief. But the actual theme of the album more-so resembles hope and rejuvenation.
Make no mistake: Western Addiction hasnt gone sunshine and rainbows. Frail Bray remains as aggressive as its predecessors. Guitarists Ken Yamazaki and Tony Teixeira sound huger than ever, with Mitch Paglias knotty bass lines in lock step with Chad Williams intricate beats. And Hall opens the album with an attack on destructive capitalism called The Leopard and the Juniper. But listen closely, and hope sneaks in. Its in the two-part celebration of motherhood, Roses Hammer I and Roses Hammer II. Its in Laurette and the perpetual rejuvenation of Wildflowers of Italy. It shines brightly in We Lived in Ultraviolet a straight-up love song.
The point of view isnt the only thing thats different on Frail Bray. Since forming in 2002, Western Addiction has defied easy categorization, and Frail Bray finds the band slipping further beyond the confines of hardcore. Roses Hammer II swaggers like Queens of the Stone Age, Wildflowers of Italy nods to classic rock n roll, and album closer Deranged by Grief recalls Suicidal Tendencies by way of Simon and Garfunkel, one of Halls favorite groups. Western Addictions attack has grown more nuanced, and Frail Brays 11 tracks show the band crafting songs that comfortably draw from a wide swath of rock n roll while retaining punks ferocity. Western Addiction tracked Frail Bray live to tapeanother first for themat the Atomic Garden in Oakland in late 2019. The band spent most of the preceding year writing and working tirelessly on the songs that would become the album.
Frail Bray shows how that dedication pays off