Elway - Better Whenever (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Better Whenever (2015)

Red Scare

Elway have a charm to them that's fit for fans of The Menzingers and The Lawrence Arms. A lot of this is built on Tim Browne's delivery as his vocals really elaborate on the stories he tells and it's most appreciated given the depth of songs they write. They always churn out relatable, seasoned punk that throw you back to the brash teen days before kicking your ass forward in time again to when you're older, working and coming home to a family. They tell wholesome stories and Better Whenever thankfully doesn't buck the trend. It sticks to script and continues to propel the band forward, strength to strength. It ends up feeling like the perfect step in their evolution and should be the album to silence doubters.

Catchy, melodic hooks and singalong jams? You got it. Midwestern punk with anthemic choruses and a punk simplicity that's too good not to foot-tap to? There's that as well. Think I'm kidding? Then jump into the first two tracks - "Our Lady of the Thompson River" and "Albuquerque Low". They typify what the band's done on albums like Passing Days and embody the old adage - if it ain't broke, don't fix it. But what stands out most to me is when they take you for a mid-tempo burn. I immediately thought of bands like Restorations and Typesetter when the self-titled track hit. It's a well-written composition for all rock fans with a subtle catharsis rising to match the single drum beat. It's haunting but still so upbeat.

Browne also mixes it up a la Red City Radio and Success a bit with a gruffer tone on "Shown To The Moon" which encompasses a lot of things. It's alternative, mainstream, straightforward yet one of their most inviting tracks. I like how they don't reinvent the wheel in sticking to the poppier side of punk when they dabble in it but what really reins the record home is that amid all these songs, there's a simple message at hand. Growing up as a band over the years on the road is really awesome when it's a family. It's a simple philosophy but one which so many bands get wrong. Browne and company orchestrate a meticulous, detailed description of said life by pumping out a series of addictive punk bangers that really show Elway for the labour of love they are. What ensues is an intense courtship between band and listener with quite a few subversions of punk, indie and everything in between to help you understand what makes Elway tick. There's a lot of emotion, heart and soul here. More so than I've ever heard from them before. Recommended...