Published on July 29th, 2016 | by Denise Borders0
Album Review: Useless ID “State is Burning”
I believe that record reviews are the collective response of the author’s objective opinion and taste on music in general, combined, however, with some undisputed facts. Useless ID officially resurfaced in the world of LP releases with State Is Burning, which came out through Fat Wreck Chords on July 1st of 2016.
Land of Idiocracy
How to Dismantle an Atom Bomb
State Is Burning
Without a Choice
We Don’t Want the Airwaves
Closer to the Edge
I recently reviewed the 4-song EP that Useless ID released prior to State is Burning and, since my thoughts on the band and its history are just a few clicks away in that piece, I will try something different with this review; I will divide the review into what makes State is Burning a great melodic punk rock record in general and what makes State is Burning a great record specifically in Useless ID discography.
Listening to punk rock music for the better part of 25 years has shaped my opinion of what I personally consider makes for a great record; A great singer and his voice, the ability to write catchy distinct choruses and verses, drumming that stands out even in the details, stand out guitar work, individuality mixed with variety in song writing and an amazing sounding record production-wise are elements which make for a great record in my ears. Useless ID’s State is Burning showcases all of these factors, almost to a complete extent. I will get to where I believe the record slightly lacks, a bit later.
There are two things, that mainly distinguish State is Burning from almost every other Useless ID release to date – after making a soft version of a punk rock record in many aspects with Symptoms in 2012, the band decided to make a fast punk rock record, it’s as simple as that. More than half of the songs are shorter, faster and less poppier than usual. When I read that there were 15 songs on State is Burning I didn’t really know what to expect and then I realized, while listening, that only one song is over two and a half minutes. The second thing you notice about State is Burning and it’s relative diversity is the singing; Yotam Ben Horin is angrier on this record and it really reflects on almost all of the songs. The man has always used his amazing voice superbly and choosing to actually scream his guts out on numerous parts now really suits the aesthetic of where Useless ID want to go with State is Burning.
My favorite Useless ID record and possibly one of my favorite punk rock records of all time is The Lost Broken Bones. I was blown away at how the record perfectly balances sort of a pop punk vibe with melodic punk rock, how almost all the songs are really catchy and memorable and how musically everything came together beautifully. State is Burning leaves me with a little bit of a feeling of urgency, with a lack of balance, weighing a bit more on the “in your face” punk rock side instead of the “catchy chorus” pop punk rock side. There are less guitar riffs and more guitar parts. The singing is angrier and usually mellows over the choruses. There are probably two, three songs too many, not so much on their own but in the broader full picture of the record. To put it in one sentence I love everything about the song Borrowed Time and mostly the chorus on the song Stopwatch. The difference between these two songs, synthetically not in quality, is what State Is Burning is built on.
Having said all the above, I consider State is Burning my top “that kind of melodic punk rock” record of this year so far and my high expectations were mostly met, making me now very anxious to see them live.