Junker - Better in the End (Cover Artwork)

Junker

Junker: Better in the End

Better in the End (2010)

self-released/Death to False Hope


3.5
Junker play a fast, tight and gruff version of punk (with heavy dosings of post-hardcore) with a whole bunch of sincerity and throaty yelling into a microphone. And while those of us familiar with the sonic influences of Junker (Hot Water Music and Leatherface notably and most easily) are quite used...

Junker play a fast, tight and gruff version of punk (with heavy dosings of post-hardcore) with a whole bunch of sincerity and throaty yelling into a microphone. And while those of us familiar with the sonic influences of Junker (Hot Water Music and Leatherface notably and most easily) are quite used to hearing bands that use two or more vocalists, they are able to manage this feat fairly well even when the listener is faced again with a sound that at times can seem familiar and well-trodden.

While Junker do manage to go over very recognizable territory, they somehow are able to slip in enough sonic tricks (while avoiding the usual sing-along gimmicks that a lot of bands think they need to keep people interested these days) to keep the sound interesting if a little well worn. And a lot of the interesting parts do come from the vocal phrasings that still are in your face and never really let up in their visceral approach. The fifth track, "No Direction" exemplifies this fairly well. The song begins with a vocals-and-guitar-only refrain ("I can't take this anymore, pressure, pressure, whoa-oh," which is a lot of fun to sing along to while driving fairly fast) and carries it through the arrival of the very heavy bass and drums and this energy carries through the rest of the song, which rumbles along building up momentum until the crescendo peaks at the end of the song at its abrupt end and decay.

However, the biggest danger Junker runs into is sending people already into their style of punk directly back to the same bands they take their influences from. I certainly appreciate the formula, but the never-ending wall of sound can be disorienting (and frankly, boring) at times, especially for a band who definitely show songwriting talent that unfortunately can get buried in the general speed and volume of the songs; the last track, "I Heard You the First Time" is a good example, played at about 75 percent the speed of the rest of the album and shows a lot more of the songwriting talent while giving the listener's ears a break and something a little easier to sing along to.

A little restraint on some of the tracks could go a long way for a clearly talented band that has laid for themselves a solid foundation for the future.