Captain, We're Sinking

The King Of No Man

Written by: TL on 15/07/2017 11:17:48

With 2013's excellent "The Future Is Cancelled", Pennsylvania's Captain, We're Sinking put themselves decisively on the map as one of the defining acts in emo punk of the moment. Yet while this rightfully makes them legends in our books, it hardly translates to a big breakthrough, and judging from subsequent interviews, the group was already in the process of hitting that wall you hit at some point in your twenties, where all the restless drunken adventuring starts to lose its meaning somewhat. So they took some time to find some footing, got some jobs and became a part time band, dragging out the wait for the long awaited follow-up.

"The King Of No Man" is here now, though, and much like The Hotelier's "Goodness", it's "the awkward album after the great emotional purge". Where "The Future Is Cancelled" was thoroughly miserable and put the listener right there in the group's desperate disillusionment, "King Of No Man" isn't similarly to the point or coherent. For while the mixture of emo's sombre, sentimental guitar-plucking and punk-rock's desperate, falling-down-the-stairs chord smashing generally persists, it seems like Bob "perennially-bound-to-be-known-as-brother-of-Greg-from-Menzingers" Barnett and fellow singer/guitarist Leo Vergnetti have been in different headspaces regarding how to write songs for the band this time around.

This makes for a somewhat uneven back and forth, because while Barnett displays with songs like "Trying Year" and "Crow (Little Wounds)" - the latter of which has been carried over from his solo album of the same name - that he has a better knack for coming up with a striking hook, his songs on here seem a bit meandering and unfocused. Meanwhile, Vergnetti's tracks step forward and present him as a songwriter finding his stride, with both great, immersive lyricism on a song like "Books" and a firmer grasp on establishing arrangements with the band that draws the listener in and pulls you forward through movements that feel like they're going somewhere. Songs like "Cannonless" and "The Future Is Cancelled Pt. II" thus, ironically, point forwards at the dramatic songwriting potential there is to work with within the group, encouraging you as a listener, while others such as "Don't Show Bill" or the title track feel a bit unresolved and give cause to some concern.

Listening thus becomes sort of a daunting experience where you're trying to figure out whether the band is coming together or growing apart here in the years following the ordeals that inspired "The Future Is Cancelled", which is interesting in itself but arguably doesn't produce as unquestionably striking moments as that record did. Vergnetti's songs do what they can to try and develop things from there, but Barnett's feel like he's not sure he wants to keep working in that direction and is rather trying to find a slightly different footing to be comfortable with, and you wonder whether the band will continue to be able to get along as they develop like this.

To get an idea about it, maybe you'll have to catch the group live and get a feel for what the energy is like with the new songs there, but on the album, it feels like questions are left open-ended. Of course making the album in the first place must be a commitment to the idea of Captain, We're Sinking the band, but that being said it feels a little more like a collection of "the songs we had at the moment" rather than the focused and coherent entity you hope will put you on your ass whenever you pick up a new record.

Download: Trying Year, The Future Is Cancelled Pt. II, Books, Crow (Little Wounds)
For The Fans Of: The Hotelier, The Wonder Years, The Smith Street Band, Off With Their Heads

Release date 23.06.2017
Run For Cover Records

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