Bridge and Tunnel - Rebuilding Year (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Bridge and Tunnel

Rebuilding Year (2011)

No Idea Records

With sophomore full-length Rebuilding Year, Bridge and Tunnel gives fans more everything. Now let me clarify; that doesn't mean "more of the same." I mean that everything that worked on debut East/West is magnified. The post-hardcore bits are more intricate. The thunderous parts are louder. And if you thought frontman Jeff Cunningham was pissed on East/West, wait til you hear his monstrous howl on tracks like "As Twelve Deer Run."

A confession: I was and remain a superfan of the post-hardcore group Nakatomi Plaza. So the presence of ex-NP bassist/vocalist Al Fair here kind of makes me giddy. It also, for those who loved Nakatomi Plaza's fiery, epic brand of post-hardcore, makes it a lot easier to draw connections. Anytime the vox get particularly harsh, the Plaza lives on.

That's not to take away from the original members' input, however. Rebuilding Year also aims for softer, atmospheric fare, which was hinted at on last year's Indoor Voices EP. The nearly six-minute opener "Synchronized Swimming" gently opens the record with lyrics about devotion -- "When the Atlantic Ocean freezes over I will walk across with you to the other side / If you try to walk before it freezes I will follow you in." Sure, it picks up around the two-minute mark, but there's still a dreamier quality to the music that was not there before.

Rebuilding Year oscillates nicely between these levels. East/West was perhaps more concise and consistent musically, but Rebuilding Year's range makes it a more compelling record. Cunningham's socio-political lyrics have dropped what little sarcasm they once held (r.e. "Oh how easily we're pacified by bullshit like TV shows on DVD") and settled for just calling 'em like he sees him. "Harder Pill to Swallow" calls shenanigans on the U.S. healthcare system. "Drill Instructor" and "Footnotes" decry the way society runs itself into the ground. "Gridlocked" is almost definitely about being stuck in the service industry. There are plenty of more personal/emotional tracks as well, as Cunningham and co. deal with getting older and drifting apart from loved ones. Then again, like the old saying goes, the personal is political.