Review: The Briggs - Come All You Madmen
Label: SideOneDummy Records
Released: June 17, 2008
When British punk got into the hands of working class kids in the late 70s who married its anger to pub singalongs and soccer chants, Oi was born. It is a thoroughly British (okay, the Irish can pull it off also) phenomenon that American bands have had a hard time copying. Being able to trust the band is perhaps more important in punk rock than in any other genre and any questions raised about credibility or honesty can be tough to overcome. The Briggs music is so tightly tied to Oi that it's hard to separate the two. Because the band is from L.A. (and even sings an ode to their hometown on this album), it instantly raises the question of whether their music is true or just posturing.
Over the first half of Come All You Madmen, the Briggs churn out their energetic and infectious anthems. The songs, in fact, are so likable that I found it every bit as difficult to dismiss them as I did to buy into the Oi shtick. However, the second half of the album takes a very different tone. Musically, it's not quite as exciting, but lyrically it rings true. "Oblivion" and "Final Words" in particular have a sense of mortality and repentance that are human and genuine. True, the hooks aren't there down the backstretch, but this is the part I needed to hear to make the album one I could believe. Going back for a second listen, even their pub singalong about Los Angeles seems on the money.
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