Spanish Love Songs - Brave Faces Everyone (Cover Artwork)

Spanish Love Songs

Brave Faces Everyone (2020)

Pure Noise Records

On any given day, I’m a 6 of 10,” croons Dylan Slocum on album opener “Routine Pain.”

[Record scratch]

What’s that? 6 of 10? Better than average? Have the Los Angeles Losers become…optimistic? Is this their transition from Woe-time to Showtime?

Well, kind of, but not really.

Fresh off of Schmaltz, one of the 2019’s most intriguing releases from 2018, Spanish Love Songs have built a reputation on writing jaunty pop-punk singalongs about feeling worthless and invisible. And much like the subject matter, the record itself went generally unnoticed at first. It took some time, but those infectious, emo-infused gems began to spread virally. They quickly started to steamroll, picking up new fans along the way who were finding pleasure and joy in upbeat songs delving in misery and depression.

Schmaltz was a diatribe against self-doubt that wallowed in mental seclusion. Where it was about the internal struggle of being sad, Brave Faces Everyone is about being scared. It’s Spanish Love Songs conquering their esteem issues and taking a big step out of their own headspace, exposing themselves to a world where others are dealing with the same bullshit and observing how they battle and cope. The record, coincidently, is a symbol of the state of the band, too. Their sudden success instilled new-found confidence to make this music a career; to drop their jobs, uproot their lives and double-down on touring life. While things are looking up, it comes with obvious trepidation as realized in “Losers,” their ne’er-do-well anthem, “It gets harder, doesn’t it?”

Slocum’s intricate, self-deprecating lyrics were always laced with strands of humor, but now that he’s writing from a more external perspective, the content is drastically more serious in tone. “Generation Loss” broaches the mental health crisis and how those affected with these unexplainable symptoms are gullible to any temporary solution to get them through the pain. He somberly cries out, “I feel selfish, but we still want you alive,” noting that peers on the outside will never understand the lengths those will go through to get better. These acts of desperation seep into the punchy “Kick,” where the substance is harsh and blunt. We have so much adversity to manage on a day-to-day basis, so why do we attach ourselves to controllable situations that result in uncontrollable outcomes? Why put ourselves in harm’s way when our surroundings are just going to knock us down anyway?

The theme of Brave Faces Everyone is apparent – we’re going through some brutal times, and it’s hard to find motivation when there’s seemingly no end in sight. Nothing’s going to change anytime soon, and it’s visualized in, “If every city is the same / Doom and gloom under a different name,” from the huge chorus in “Beach Front Property.” It’s like we’re waiting for the world to get worse before it gets better. “The ocean’s gonna rise / The river’s gonna finally overflow / And leave us stranded,” paints the picture of being helpless. It’s taken from one of the most emotional moments from the record on “Optimism (as a radical life choice),” that questions the will to survive in that circumstance when you find a crack in your lifeboat.

The state of days that they narrate should give the band every reason to bury themselves back into their own solitude, but these songs are too powerful and contrarily fun. They haven’t evolved stylistically, yet the hooks are sharper, the bridges are bigger and the delivery is more polished. It’s their mission to put on those brave faces, fight through the agony and bring this record to the masses. Brave Faces Everyone will soon transform Spanish Love Songs into an “appointment band,” sure to be dubbed, [“Jock Jams" plays,] the Showtime Losers.