Developing a Theory of Integrity
(Red Scare Industries)
My job gets harder every day. How do you review getting older? How do you break down growing up and breaking up into tiny, quantifiable pieces? How could I possibly tell you how good MakeWar’s new album, Developing a Theory of Integrity, is?
The album is somehow worlds better than their self-titled, which topped every end of year list I was assigned. Where MakeWar was a collection of reinvented jams, Developing a Theory of Integrity is all new, and there’s no sophomore slump to be found. The songs are cohesive, their production sharp enough to cut a diamond, and their vibes loose. “Tiger Lili” is a snapshot of the band at their finest, from the gang vocals to the foot tapping rhythm section. First single “Ode” is a love letter to New York, and the video shows it. “On Feelings” tries to bring you down with its story of wanting to erase your ex, but it doesn’t manage to do so. MakeWar has you swaying even when you’re examining your feelings. Even on the more serious songs like opener “Matador Pool Party” and “Don’t Panic,” you can’t help but feel good. It’s a deception the band are well versed in: hiding suffering and addiction beneath a veneer of party punk. “Insurance” is a prime example, with lyrics about trying to move on and failing, but pairing it with a musical backing that hides how truly heavy the song is. At the very end, vocalist Jose Prieto drops all pretense, going acoustic and ripping out your still bleeding heart in the process. “Sallie” makes things better with a tribute to friendship (and student loans?). “Distractions” is a straight punk cut, and hands down the hardest driving song on the record. “Dust” is slow burning, ending the album on a melodic note that will come out of left field if you aren’t familiar with the band, who pepper their releases with straight up funereal backdrops, thought provoking songs that leave you more than breathless – they leave you feeling slightly frightened, albeit entertained and wishing their albums were just a few songs longer.
MakeWar’s music is constant reminder that yeah, there’s going to be pain, and sadness, and you’re gonna fall down. They show you that you can stay down as long as you like, but don’t forget there are people that care about you, that will help you up, even if one of them is Sallie Mae.