This week for “New In Review,” I will be reviewing not one, but TWO albums that came out this weekend! The first album is Life Lessons, the debut album by Made For Broadway. Formed in Johannesburg, South Africa around early 2014, the band has released two previous EPs: Chemistry (2014), and Solid Ground (2015). The first song I ever heard from them was “This Is War” from the Chemistry EP, and I was hooked by their catchy and simple brand of pop punk. If I could compare them to any band/artist, I would say that they are along the line of Motion City Soundtrack with hints of Neck Deep and Four Year Strong. Another one of my favorite songs by them is “Monsters” from the Solid Ground EP, as well. Check that out, too! Anyway, let’s get started shall we?
The album starts out with the first single “Royalty.” Already, the song sets the stage for the production of the album: heavy guitars, audible bass, and amazing drum quality. The song also showcases singer Justin James’ higher vocal range, and it is pretty amazing. Bouncy, but punk: just the way they like it. “True Love,” the second track, picks up the pace. It is an overall perfect song: sick chorus, great verses, and killer guitar riffs. This song definitely keeps their sound in tact, but compared to their previous EPs, it shows a tremendous amount of growth and maturity in their songwriting. This song NEEDS to be played live! The next song, “Mayday Tonight,” continues the catchiness that the album has to offer. The lyrical content is about having a “plane crash epiphany” about the addictions that the storyteller has. Definitely another killer track, and another song that needs to be played live. One of the best guitar riffs on the album, too!
“Together (Parallel Universe)” resembles huge comparisons to Commit This To Memory-era Motion City Soundtrack and blink-182 a-la Enema Of The State. Not that this is a bad thing, of course. This is a vocal highlight on the album, thanks to amazing melodies that will get stuck in your head in an instant. The next two songs, “Solid Ground” and “Hit The Road,” were already featured on the Solid Ground EP, but theses re-recorded versions outdo the original recordings all day long. For one, the drum intro to “Solid Ground” is much more heavy hitting, making the sound more “easycore” than the previous songs on the album. The re-recorded version of “Hit The Road” also has better production quality, and it has more of an audible bass line along with more prominent guitars. Having the addition of breaking glass in the bridge is another added bonus that made go “Holy shit!” (Turns out, it’s okay to curse on here). This song was one my other favorite song on the EP, and is probably another live staple in their set. That being said, it won’t be going away any time soon! Both songs are amazing in their own right, but making them better for this album just makes it sweeter.
The second half of the album starts out with “Say I Do.” This is another bouncy track about the fantasy of marriage that the main character wants, but doesn’t want at the same time because both him and the woman he refers to are completely different. This song has a bass interlude that it simple, but super killer thanks to the tone. This also has one of the greatest choruses on the whole album. The next song, “Bittersweet,” is one hell of a heavy hitter on this album. Chugging guitars are present throughout, and once again, the chorus of this song is one of the best on the record. Then again, the same could be said for the verses and the bridge, too. This is also another song that showcases the Justin’s low to high range beautifully. Gang vocals also included. Speaking of which, “Bottles,” the next song, not only has great riffs, but waaaaaayyyy amazing vocal melodies and lyrics. That, and a “brutal” breakdown (for lack of a better term). Heavy AF \m/\ \m/
“Move” tops the “heaviest songs on the album” list. Screaming is featured more in this song than any other, and the guitars, drums, bass, and vocals are at their best on this track. Not much else to say except this: Dammit, this NEEDS TO BE PLAYED LIVE!!! Track 10 “Dawning” continues the one-two-punch with amazing guitar riffs/melodies, killer vocals, and a driving bass line. If the band can pull this song off live, I will be impressed. Man, I keep getting at a loss for words during certain points on this album. Is that bad? I don’t think so! The album closer, “I Won’t Apologize,” in my opinion, is a wild card. The lyrics talk about wanting to dance with a girl, which is definitely different than most of the subject matter on the album. The chorus is actually fantastic, but the song as a whole is…interesting. Not bagging on it for being different, but as an album closer, my answer is: meh. If it was placed differently in the track listing, then it’d be a different story. Speaking of interesting, the reason why the last track is six minutes long is because there is a *spoiler alert* hidden (comedic) track! No name is given, but I will call this song “Meow.” You will see why once you listen to it.
In conclusion, I see nothing a very bright future for this South African band. This album makes me want to eat pizza on my longboard in the summer time. As a message to Made For Broadway: I know that you guys have toured the US before, but question: have you guys ever came to the Midwest? If not, please come to Wisconsin ASAP! Keep up the rocking, gentlemen!
Standout tracks: “Move,” “Dawning,” “Hit The Road,” “Say I Do,” “True Love,” “Bittersweet”