Late News Breaking is a remarkably satisfying listen. Over the years Squad Five-O has honed their disparate garage, glam and ska influences in a tight sound and under Matt Wallace's well-suited and stripped-down production really get to show it off here.
First and foremost Late News Breaking is an incredibly consistent record. The band's written quite a batch of soulful guitar rock, falling closer to The Replacements and maybe Ride than it does the pop-punk of their own generation. The album opening "Always Talkin', Never on the Run" is an example of this, along with the infectious sing-along "Bye American." Squad Five-O's hit a vein of very archetypical songwriting in tunes like "Don't Hesitate" or "Left Alone" that's both energetic and modern yet holds a stylistic reverence for what came before. Particularly satisfying is how the band's ska and dancehall side is integrated into the album. Tracks like "Secret Society" and "All We Have" have the bite and nervousness of 2-Tone. The former in particular employs a very eerie organ line that would make The Specials proud. While Late News Breaking is certainly not a "ska-punk" album as we typically recognize them, the band's ska songs are remarkably well done. Interesting too are songs like "Keep Me Up At Night" and "No Heroes," rock songs in which the rhythmic influences of ska very subtlety emerge under the surface.
Of course we have no shortage of bands attending the Rancid-school of songwriting and leaning heavily on the Clash and the Specials, however Squad Five-O balances it out with a love for 80s guitar rock and a sensibility that's far more roots American than it is 70s British. There's something very earnest and amiable about this album, it has a distinctive style and attitude that runs throughout and a recording style that (for once on a major label debut) doesn't betray the band's potential. Late News Breaking really might just be the feel-good record of the summer.
Squad Five-O - Lay It Down (Windows Media Stream)