Former Member

Manageable Scratches

Written by: PP on 23/12/2021 23:38:40

Former Member is a punk rock project by Jason Shevchuk (vocalist of Kid Dynamite and None More Black) and renowned producer Will Yip on drums, who released an excellent debut album "Old Youth" three years ago. It was a buzzing, mid-tempo effort that drew parallels to bands like I Am The Avalanche and Pass Away in its melodically ringing, yet unassuming delivery. Not much has changed since then.

The sophomore album "Manageable Scratches" continues to rely on Shevchuk's scratchy clean vocal style that sounds a hell of a lot like Vinnie Caruana and less like his bombastic performance on Kid Dynamite records. It's a different sonic take, but perhaps one that allows his uniquely raw pipes the proper highlight they deserve. In the meantime, the guitars continue to source from a wide array of influences ranging from groovy 70s rock'n'roll on "Survival Mode" captured through a punk rock lens, or the casually infectious, laid-back punk of "Habitual Line Stepper".

Listening through to "2nd Take" and its experimental guitar effects and atmospherics, well, these simply wouldn't have been possible to do on either Kid Dynamite or None More Black records. That's because they'd stray too far outside the predefined genre boxes of either, even if particularly later None More Black records began leaning towards material we've heard both here and on "Old Youth". In other words, Former Member gives Shevchuk an avenue to explore his songwriting prowess beyond just the basic Fat Wreck style rollickin' punk rock melodies or the explosive energy of Kid Dynamite songs.

So does it work? To some extent, yes. Especially the first third of the record features fantastic melodies that fans of Shevchuk's older work will appreciate at ease. As on the previous record, things get weirder on the second half of the record where "Corrosable Bond" dives into a thrashier version of punk-fueled rock'n'roll, and "Favorable Signals" sounds like a bouncy ballad. Here's where the melodies are less straightforward, arguably leaving behind many of the Fat Wreck fans wishing for just a little bit more speed and roughness around the edges in the soundscape. For now, "Manageable Scratches" is a fine record without necessarily having the flair to stand out this year.


Download: Dull Bog, Habitual Line Stepper, 2nd Take
For the fans of: I Am The Avalanche, Kid Dynamite, The Movielife, None More Black, Pass Away
Listen: Bandcamp

Release date 27.10.2021
Memory Music Label

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