Born to Lose - The Dreams of Kids (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Born to Lose

The Dreams of Kids (2010)


Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers were "Born to Lose." Social Distortion was "Born to Lose." The Bouncing Souls, Johnny Cash, and even Ray Charles were all "Born to Lose" via Ted Daffan and the Texans outlaw classic. But Austin, Texas' Born to Lose was born to bruise, because this shit gets deep.

Not just "deep" from a philosophical standpoint (which it really isn't), but sonically, with a thick low end and a weighty wall of sound-like approach. The production on The Dreams of Kids also helps obscure whatever distinct stylistic boundaries might be imposed. Though the aesthetic tendencies might have pointed to street punk from a surface standpoint, the full, beefy sound at times more closely resembles hardcore, while multiple points in the album have the delivery and lyrical motifs of early Strung Out.

The record itself is a tad lopsided, starting slowly with the cliché-ridden "Fall on Your Sword" and title track, but ending with the phenomenal "The Swing," "Last Chance Boys" and "Forever Ours." However, even the weaker tracks provide something to take away, if not the hooks, then at least the lyrics. While "Shallow Graves" doesn't pack the melodic punch of some of the other tunes, its paradoxical couplets paint a nice picture for the listener: "We are the moral man / We are the whore / We are the protest scene / We are the war / We are the socialist / We starve our poor / We are the scientist / Whose Christ is Lord."

Born to Lose offers glimpses of Hot Water Music-like brilliance on songs like "Hard Rain," with its well-absorbed lead guitar and urgently delivered vocals that don't skimp on melody and harmony. Despite background "whoa"s that are nearly identical, "The Swing" and "Last Chance Boys" both hit impossible heights when the booming chorus barrels forth.

What really separates Born to Lose from the pack isn't just the unique sound captured on The Dreams of Kids, but a certain level of austerity and restlessness that belies their confident songwriting and implementation. Regardless of which niche this record ends up calling home, it's an enjoyable release and a testament to what this band is capable of.