Bodyjar

New Rituals

Written by: PP on 22/02/2022 19:53:48

Aussie skate punk veterans Bodyjar were primarily active during the golden era of punk rock, having released six albums between 1994 and 2005 before eventually going on a hiatus. While they were never quite as celebrated as their closest sounding peers in Lagwagon, No Use For A Name, and Millencolin, their output was nonetheless largely enjoyable and varied between pop punk and skate punk for the most part. Since then, they have played a few sporadic reunion shows, released "Bodyjar" back in 2013, and an EP in 2017, but otherwise they've mostly flown beneath the radar.

Now they've resurfaced with "New Rituals", the first new Bodyjar album in nine years and only their second since 2005's self-titled. Cameron Baines' charismatically dark and snarly cleans are still the main draw, resembling Lagwagon's Joey Cape, particularly on tracks like "Billy" and "Big Shot". New bassist Nick Manuell has joined the band, replacing original member Grant Relf's nearly three-decade tenure wielding the instrument, but stylistically it hasn't affected Bodyjar's sound much, if at all. Their tight skate punk is still eerily reminiscent of late 90s Epitaph / Fat Wreck bands during the genre heydey, best exemplified on the infectiously catchy, melodic grooves and hooks of tracks like "Rain" and "Ignorance".

Elsewhere, the more technical yet oddly smooth punk of Strung Out comes to mind ("Tongues" particularly references circa "Agents Of The Underground"-era Strung Out), as does mid-2000s Millencolin. A song like "Get Out Of My Head" storms out the gate with a great tempo and playful guitars, while "Pieces" goes for a dark/bright contrast where Natalie Foster's (Press Club) female vocals add character nicely. And if you're more into pop-rock, "Be The One" slows things down to arena-style melodies for a more balladic take.

The lyrical universe is rather political, yet it's easy to focus only on the bright melodies and nice sing-alongs if you aren't paying close attention. And herein comes my main critique of Bodyjar's work both today in 2022 as well as their 90s output: it has always been pretty good without being spectacular. That is also the case here: "New Rituals" features plenty of solid bangers but none that'll elevate the record into the top 10 this year. It's steadfastly faithful to the melodicore / skate punk style, which means fans of the aforementioned bands will find the record an enjoyable listen pretty much throughout. It's also tough to point out exactly what Bodyjar is missing to break the glass ceiling, but that something is what separates "New Rituals" from being a great album instead of just being a solid one.

Download: Rain, Get Out Of My Head, Big Shot, Ignorance
For the fans of: Lagwagon, Strung Out, Millencolin, No Use For A Name
Listen: Facebook

Release date 02.02.2022
Pile Of Sand

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