Album Review
New York Rel-X, The
Label: TKO Records
  • 5/5
Reviewed by Janelle
From the first time I saw them live, I've been a New York Rel-X fan ヨ let's just get that out of the way. And I always thought they were tremendous songwriters, enjoying them on their two EPs 'She's Got a Gun' and 'Paranoia' (available on one CD through TKO). But the new material is a real step up, truly outshining their previous output. On the 11 tracks (well, one is a cover of Girlschool's "Emergency", a live staple of the band's for years), the foursome have fashioned some fearsomely focused songs that can only be the result of maturity and a real honing of their craft.

Okay, for those unfamiliar, The Rel-X are a female-fronted melodic punk band featuring the enchanting vocals of Erika, the ferocious guitar work of Johnny Kray who scatters some great leads throughout the album, drummer Scot with his driving beats, and Adi, whose bass adds a real punch and whose back-up vocals lend much to the overall sound of the songs. Now, yes, I suppose "melodic punk" can nowadays have some pretty negative connotations, what with all the sugar-coated, safe, and sterile so-called "punk" rubbish littering the underground, but The Rel-X have real bite, grit, and a toughness to their catchy tunes. Not to mention there's an alluringly dark undercurrent throughout the record, both musically and lyrically.

And speaking of lyrics, they pretty much all have a conflicted, sad feel to them, which complements the underlying darkness quite nicely (a result, no doubt, of the two main songwriters, Adi and Johnny, going through a tough break-up at the time). And I mention this "darkness," but really, the whole album is pretty fast-paced and upbeat, but it's just the feeling of tension is definitely apparent on songs like "No More Tears"; the mid-tempo, aptly-titled "Sorrow Is a Prison"; the exquisite title track; and "Why". Let's clear this up: it's not a depressing album, by any means! I suppose it's just an outward expression of the conflict felt during the songwriting process, which, I must say, definitely worked in favor for The Rel-X.

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