The Brokedowns - Sick of Space (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Brokedowns

Sick of Space (2018)

Red Scare

It's easy to lump The Brokedowns in with the other great pop punk bands from Chicago, but it's really not that simple. For one thing, they're from the suburbs, which is definitely not the same as being from Chicago. While most good pop punk bands have some bitterness beneath the surface, The Brokedowns don’t really try to hide it. They also have strong elements of funkier (and funnier) bands like The Minutemen or Big Boys. I had to see them live before I really got it, but now consider them among the top tier of modern pop punk bands.

Sick of Space is the sixth full length from The Brokedowns, and their third for Red Scare. Over 15 years into their career, they’re still full of piss and vinegar. “The One True Freak” sets the uneasy tone. “The Fort” picks up the danceable pace and continues the thread of discomfort with religion. Religion, or lack thereof, is a recurring theme. Things really kick into high gear musically with the more light hearted “Cave Trash, Dumpster Embassy”. The title track lampoons life in the suburbs and is probably the record’s brightest spot. It may compare heaven to a strip mall.

The Brokedowns are usually the funniest band in the room, and the second half of Sick of Space really drives that point home. “Shitty Little League”, “Guy Shit”, “America’s Riff”, “Led Zeppelin lll” and closer “Ancient Memes” are all good for a laugh, but the Misfits referencing pun of “Mommy, Can I Go Out and Chill Tonight” is the standout. Overall, there is a lyrical depth beyond what you would expect for the genre. The bitter lyrical humor mixed with a little extra musical tension is a winning combination.

I struggle to put Sick of Space into context with the rest of The Brokedowns discography. I’d like to go back and really dig into their older stuff, but due to time constraints it’s just not possible. (The truth is, I’m chained up in the basement at PN HQ. If I don’t write reviews fast enough, the management beats me mercilessly. They say they’ll hurt my family if I ever try to leave.) What I can say is that this record is on par with their other Red Scare stuff. If you like your pop punk with a side of anger, black humor and sarcasm, then The Brokedowns and Sick of Space are highly recommended.