This is a grower.
Not that How Dare You's The King, The Clown, And the Colonel is exercising any significant stylistic shift for the Florida-based, gruff-punk outfit; rather, picking up directly where their split with the Knockdown left off, the shortened song structure and loss of their obvious post-hardcore tendencies leave their uplifting slogans somewhat vulnerable to criticism. The extended interludes and dynamic jam sessions on their debut, Comfort Road, gave their songs loads of character, despite some finding it suspect. But if you give TK,TC,ATC some time, hopefully you'll be dazzled by How Dare You's ability to write a huge chorus with their own unique sense of energy.
In fact, it's the word "energy" that best summarizes the effect of the first half. After the opener "Hardships" puts the record in context with Comfort Road, this side progressively speeds up. Never blistering by any means, but enough to make a solid, upbeat punk rock tune. "Horizon" puts one of those great choruses into practice, but with the repetition of "you better run, run, run" coming dangerously close to questionable.
The second half goes by pretty quickly, only choosing to steady towards the final three songs. The closer, the No Division-esque "Unions", doesn't hesitate to let itself breathe and flow naturally. At the risk of sounding redundant, the rest of TK,TC,ATC suffers from not being as expansive as a song like "Unions".
But maybe I'm expecting too much from just a modest punk rock band like How Dare You. There really aren't any frills or strings to be attached on The King, The Clown, And the Colonel, and if you just want a comfortable record to throw on this summer, this is probably a safe bet.
This is a grower.