I'll be honest: On the day Capital promised to post the free download link to Givers Takers, I set my alarm, woke up, and refreshed the band's Facebook page for hours. Capital's last full-length, Homefront was a classic display of quality melodic hardcore, but unfortunately overlooked. For those who paid attention, the moment the band announced a followup, the anticipation could collapse a building.
So what about the new record? Firstly, Capital's studio time has followed a trajectory worth noting. Each release the band produces sounds a lot better than the last—in fact, their debut, Signal Corps was actually recorded DIY in an old school, if that helps the point of reference. But two records later, Givers Takers' live recording quality and production is monumentally cleaner, to the point where every instrument is perfectly audible, and the "studio upgrade" is really just a living room this time around. Along with Chris Hannah's (Propagandhi) input, the mix cuts the leads through at the perfect level. With the overall clarity and cleanliness, it's a lot easier to appreciate the competence in musicianship; and frankly, the record is incidentally a hell of a lot more accessible. That may or may not be a good thing depending on the listener.
Musically, Capital has shed a lot of the last bit of the obvious Silent Majority history, with the only kind-of-exception being "Kennell". Ironically, it's on the the band's most eclectic record do they realize and refine their own sound. On the melodic side, I can hear everything from '90s bands like Split Lip ("Little Pill") to the open-chord, gruff sing-alongs of Avail ("Road Rash", "Southern Air"); on the harder side, there's some thrashy riffing à la Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes ("Youth Culture") and some older hardcore stylings like Articles of Faith or Minor Threat ("Three Weeks in the Desert", "Grifters"). It's a seemingly well-researched record, with the final product sounding firmly rooted but always unique. The only real change that could actually be a foreseeable issue to older fans is Tommy Corrigan's voice on those melodic songs. His entire discography is known for a strict dichotomy of intense and quirky delivery, but his singing vocals are consistently more relaxed.
Corrigan's lyrics, however, aren't exactly reserved. He's always had a good head for connecting politics with the personal. For example, opener "Green (With Envy)" presumably focuses on differing social status, coupled with hard life choices. A sense of inferiority lingers, with Corrigan finally admitting that he can't "level the playing field / it's the killing field of youth." And in conjuction with hardcore tradition, he doesn't hesitate to tell us straight answers in "Cold and Gray" ("no ascension into heaven / no tomb rocks breaking up / in the end we will all be cold and grey") and in the D.C.-influenced "Conspiracy Theory" ("an examination's easy if you want it"). I was hoping for a jab at Hardtimes.ca on that last one.
Amongst all the fast-emo bandwagoners these days, real melodic hardcore is hard to find and harder to pull off, but Capital does it better than most. And if Givers Takers is any indication, they may be the one of the best at it.
A vinyl version of Givers Takers is being planned by Underground Communique Records.