Blueline Medic was on Fueled by Ramen Records back when the label wasn't just an incubator for the majors. Their first EP, A Working Title in Green, was a catchy little four-song exercise in Bad Religion and Jawbreaker-influenced indie rock and emo. Their last full-length, Text Bomb, was terrible. But The Apology Wars, which came out the same day as blink-182's Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, is phenomenal.
Slammed by some as second-rate Jawbreaker aping, it was loved by others as one of many possible heirs to Jawbreaker's throne. The band hails from Australia, which lends an interesting accent to Blueline Medic's brand of hook-laden, sing-along indie-punk (at least for those of us in the States).
The first song, "Cathedral," opens with a four count on the high hat and an extended metaphor involving the building of a cathedral that, near as I can tell, is about fighting the destructive nature of the world, and possibly the punk scene. It ends with the line, "Neither sane nor fool enough is the good word going round. I built the cathedral almost on my own. It stands in a house you helped to build. You're guaranteed of a place to be," the first part of which is bolstered by an awesome drum fill that is the climax of the song.
The lyrics stay at about the same caliber throughout the album, though one of the highlights is the song "Making the Nouveau Riche." It's as simple as simple can be, with most of the song consisting of two chords. This simplicity drives home the point of the song, which is one of the best statements of intent from a starving musician I have ever heard:
You say I have to get a real life, but I'm not sure how that in making someone or other rich is any more real than making a niche for yourself. I'm without a zack, a truth, a coin, a kopeck or an elusive brass razoo. But my dear rationalist, don't dream I couldn't care. I too grow quickly bored of the clothes I wear. So maybe I should go and get a real life, real like cutting a fine figure or scraping a deposit together for it, heaven forbid. Just suppose I cannot live on taxes and goodwill forever. But how is it that the problem just doesn't seem to press while my fingers are themselves pressing hard against the neck? I was sure that I suffered and worked as hard as anyone I knew [...] well it seems I haven't. I better damn well fix and make it look every inch as though I do but still have to go and get a real life and I've no doubt that it will happen. Maybe I've put it off for too long now, gonna see if I can't get something better than a [...] Maybe I'm amidst of a real life...But this album's strength is not just in its poetic lyrics, though that is quite clearly its strongest point. The music is not only able, but captivating. Blueline Medic jumps from two or three-chord pop to guitar-heavy indie rock and almost Coldplay-esque moodiness in songs like "At Least We Had the War" (take it from someone who hates Coldplay, they make it work). Some moments ("Shuffle and Scrape") suggest that the band takes some of the same influences as Jets to Brazil.
If anything, that's the best descriptor for this album. It seems to bridge the sonic gap between Dear You and Orange Rhyming Dictionary, though I can't say it has the level of genius that those CDs do. But it's close.