I'm not really aware of Lost City Angels' previous history, but from what's apparent, Broken World is an unexpected step for the band. Combining the rock-influenced punk aggression of press release namedrops Social Distortion (and the comparison actually fits!) with the raw though fleshed-out and sped-up emotions of Caution-era Hot Water Music, the album is a really solid hybrid of the qualities any self-asserted "punk" or otherwise looks for in a band. From the rugged street chorus of "Pretty War" to the modest declarations of opener "Liberation," Broken World honestly breathes life into the "genre" and cuts off the oxygen supply to naysayers of such.
I'm sure because of the occasional vocal infection, a lazy comparison would comprise of the Bouncing Souls or likewise upbeat punk bands and maybe even AOCTW-era Rancid, but it's tough to say even then if it holds ground. If anything, LCA really just take the same Strummer-like influences and attempt to caplitalize on them. The title track is especially noticable of this, with a chorus-contained melody that seems to precede pop music's tail-end progression with most or all of LCA's present contemporaries. It's a bit slowed down as far as the rest of the song goes and, like mentioned, really seems to simply "harken back."
"Liberation" is top-notch as the album's opener; three minutes fly by as guitars screech in and out of verse and chorus and the vocals jump from ragged to soaring and back again. There's an occasional anthemic quality to the record that can be found in tracks like this one as well as "Pretty War" and "Faithless On The Floor." The fast-paced, pseudo-sloppy "Clutching At Shadows" features guest female vocals from the Dropkick Murphys, and, if I could be hypocritical for a moment, could easily be a mid-90's Rancid outtake. The dirty uptempo punk of "Tonight's The Night" is a cool changeup to the rest of the more rock-oriented vibe of Broken World. Though the album seems to get progressively worse as it goes on, the decline is at least steady, and the disc seems to finish up as you're noticing the fault, depending on your attention span.
I'd also like to briefly point out in spite of my irrationally cynical self that Universal really seems to have left this one alone - it's somehow getting the promotion it deserves without seeming like the collaborative result of execs and Top 40-wishful suitpieces. It's melodic without bubblegum gloss, singalongable without opportunity for commercialization jingling, and often opts for a laid-back intensity that's severely lacking in anything that's usually blessed with the abovementioned corporate influence for radio airplay and the like. Maybe it's because Stay Gold is the imprint, maybe Universal just let its release slip under the radar; who knows. Plus, although the production really pushes everything to the forefront of the sound, it really gives the album a sort of appropriate, in-your-face vibe without coming off as too obnoxious or overbearing.
Broken World is a fairly solid if not rather imbalanced record that's chock full of great influences, songwriting and style base. If a little more consistency was present it could certainly take aim for "best of" lists much later in the year, but as it stands, it's still a more-than-decent record and a definite surprise from the Boston outfit.