ALBUM REVIEW: Zebrahead – Brain Invaders
Zebrahead have an impressive repertoire, and their 13th studio album Brain Invaders makes no exceptions. The fantastic and disturbingly named record is a punchy collection of tracks, sticking hard to their genre-bending roots. After working with Paul Miner and Kyle Black on their last album, Walk the Plank, the band have brought the duo back for Brain Invaders. The pair have worked with many other talented bands in the scene including New Found Glory and Thrice. The album will be released on the 8th of March via MFZB Records.
The band have taken the title literally as the first track, When Both Sides Suck, We’re All Winners is introduced with small thumping scratches, comparable to those of sci-fi films. There’s a sneaky electronic trap beat that digs throughout the song, contrasting heavily against Dan Palmer‘s untamed heavy metal riffs.
All My Friends Are Nobodies was the first single released from Brain Invaders, and it holds an essential message of friendship and perpetuates that we’re never as alone as we feel. Vocalist Ali Tabatabee says of the track, “All My Friends Are Nobodies was one of the earliest songs we worked on for this album. It has a great message of being there for the people you care about, even though you might not be in the best emotional state yourself.” In classic early post-punk fashion, the killer riff heightens the intensity of the song. Similar is the charming I Won’t Let You Down, a punchy track of aggressive lyrics that builds into a friendly, melodic singalong with steady guitar hooks.
In comparison to the rest of the album, Up The Smoke is a poppy, early 2000’s tribute. The band aren’t afraid to play with comedy, and the ‘bong’ noises are a playful addition to the song. The track is reminiscent of 2pac’s infamous California Love with its laid-back basslines and head bobbing tune. “We ain’t got no place to go, we ain’t got nothing to show. But if you don’t care, we don’t care” evokes a carefree attitude, fitting with the rebellious tone of Brain Invaders.
Brain Invaders makes you work for it; the album changes genre in almost every song. When you think you know what’s coming, you get hit with a track utterly different from its other companions. It’s a monster of sound. The ska-infused, You Don’t Know Anything About Me is led by classic brass instrumentals, skanking is necessary when listening to this track while stylistically, Take a Deep Breath (And Go F Yourself) is a twisted love song, dramatic in its slow and heart-wrenching chorus. All Die Young and Party on the Dancefloor are a strong representation of the record as a whole. The band have never taken themselves too seriously, and these tracks inject some pop-punk influences with catchy vocal hooks. The LP leaves little room for fillers, as it’s consistently solid from track to track. Further breaking the boundaries and proving their exceptional creativity, Better Living Through Chemistry opens with a 1920’s jazz instrumental, before thrusting itself into a nu-metal beat.
Bullet on The Brain is a tenacious finisher, aggressively hitting the listener with thrashing guitars and kick-start pedalling. The track rounds off the album with a bang, and Zebrahead demonstrates why they’re known for their lyric spitting abilities as Tabatabee‘s words dart around with an impact that is powerful.
Zebrahead has proved that you only get better with age. For the band’s thirteenth album, it is a real masterpiece for the punk genre. It’s a paradox of music; it manages to stay true to their musical roots, like a band stuck in time while still exhibiting freshness. It could be argued that the skate-punk movement is dying in popularity, but with bands like Zebrahead, Anti Flag and touring buddies Reel Big Fish keeping the campaign alive, we think its time for a rebirth.
Standout Tracks: All My Friends Are Nobodies, Better Living Through Chemistry, Bullet On The Brain
For Fans Of: Sum 41, Anti-Flag, Bowling for Soup
Written by: Caitlin Sharkey