Bridge and Tunnel - East/West (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Bridge and Tunnel

East/West (2008)

No Idea

The biggest fault I could find with Bridge and Tunnel's debut 7" last year was that it simply wasn't long enough. And now that the band has completed a full-length album, they've not only managed to improve in almost every aspect since their 7", but they have also put forward one of the most exciting and interesting records you'll hear this year. While the band hasn't fully shed comparisons to acts like Fugazi or Small Brown Bike, their sound is certainly developing into something entirely their own, mixing their aggressive tendencies with more subdued moments of American Football-esque instrumentation.

The disc opens on a high note with "Wartime Souvenirs," arguably the album's hardest hitting track. There is an undeniable sense of outrage in vocalist Jeff Cunningham's voice as he attacks how lazy and indifferent society has become, as we're now "pacified by bullshit like TV shows on DVD." While I could point out any number of their clever critiques of social or political apathy, the true brilliance of the disc's lyrics comes from the members' self-assessments. The band never comes off as having a superiority complex, as they admit their own imperfections while striving to get the listener to correct theirs as well. An example occurs on the great track "Rubrics," where Cunningham sings "Scribble my head with horns, a bad suit, and a face that looks worn. I don't blame you. Sometimes I see myself that way too."

The band makes excellent use of the three voices they have, with bassist Tia Meilinger and Rachel Rubino coming in with great frequency and urgency. This is particularly noticeable on tracks like "Dear Sir:" or "Night Owls," where the female vocals take the forefront. It certainly helps that each member can not only hold their own at the microphone, and also play off each other with startling chemistry. The intensity of the disc only lets up for a few minutes as the instrumental track "The World Series" gives the listener a moment to absorb what they've already heard, before rushing into the last three tracks of the disc. The closing number, "As Close as I Can," is particularly notable: a swirling track that is as optimistic as it is honest, and a beautiful way to close out the disc.

East/West is intelligent without being arrogant and emotional without ever being repetitive. It's a complex disc that manages to shine regardless of the tempo its keeping and retain a listener's interest throughout its 40 minutes -- no easy feat for a debut full-length.