"Live through, live strong / Carry on and on and on / No more false-start life at traffic lights.” The Flatliners – “Carry the Banner”
On their third full-length, Cavalcade, the Flatliners deliver more energetic punk rock in the vein of Smoke or Fire, Dead to Me and Lost City Angels. The vocals are gruff, the tempos are quick and the tunes are all about drinkin’ and failin’. The difference lies in the tone, though. Flatliners never wallow in pity, making Cavalcade an awfully hopeful record, even if it deals with topics like economic disparity and familial strife.
Like 2007’s The Great Awake, the group’s ska influences are severely turned down, with only “He Was a Jazzman” and one section in “Shithawks” showing any semblance of reggae rhythms. Nowadays, the group’s punk is a little more pure. Drunk Midwestern punks are gonna love this stuff, as they should. These songs are rapid-fire rabble-rousers.
The opening two-hit combo of “The Calming Collection” and “Carry the Banner” is so effective that the band would be wise to maintain that order live. The two songs combine to form five minutes of really awesome, “up with people” punk. “Bleed” keeps the good vibes going, while “Here Comes Treble” pauses to apologize to alienated relatives. Chris Cresswell’s gravelly vocals sell every line.
Admittedly, Cavalcade drops off a little in its second half. There’s nothing wrong with more Lawrence Arms-ish rockin’, but with tunes as fine as “The Calming Collection” and “Here Comes Treble” waiting in the front, it’s tempting to skip back to the beginning over and over. Maybe it’s the record’s running time. Forty minutes is slightly too long for this style, but the 12 tracks presented here are all so fine that any editing would just start fights among listeners (although I would've cut “Sleep Your Life Away.” Discuss). Cavalcade should make fans want to choose life, make love to the moon and kiss a grizzly right in front of his mama. Or at least drive slightly faster than normal. It’s that kind of a feel-good album.