Album Review: Et Tu Brute – “Not In Our Stars”

(You can stream or pay-what-you-want for this album over on Bandcamp)

This year’s debut EP by Chicago melodic punk act Et Tu Brute (featuring members of defunct Chicago punk acts X Is For Eyes, Duller Colors, and Hot Lips Messiah) musically illustrates and interprets a strong sense of desperation that is has been an integral part of punk rock, while remaining intensely self-reflective without coming across as whiny or self-centered.

Vocally smooth (mostly) and instrumentally biting, this EP is a solid example of modern melodic punk, in the vein of influences like the Bouncing Souls or fellow Chicago natives The Lawrence Arms. The use of a more hardcore vocal style is used tastefully sparingly to draw together a good chorus or bridge here and there, as well as some great background vocals. While listening to the background vocals, you always get the sense that they’re being called or cried out from a long distance, which subtly compliments the general flavor the band seems to be going for here. There’s a powerful drive that holds these songs together start to beginning, enough to keep these songs flowing together smoothly. That’s not to say they all blend together; there’s enough distinction between tracks to keep these songs from overdoing it.

Lyrically, these tunes delve inward into the often harshly earnest realm of self-reflection, examining our personal faults and failures as “the essence that draws us closer” (from “To Things Working Out). These lyrics from the closing track “Dellwood Park” wonderfully illustrate a sort of mid-20’s frustration that is definitely a common thread throughout these songs:

“I haven’t helped myself in such a long, long, long time

I can’t remember what it’s like to be glad for the way things are,

to sit back let things fall into place.” 

To me, that’s a powerfully simple expression of dissatisfaction, a feeling that is universal but not always easily tapped into.

Emotionally raw and energetically presented, I enjoyed listening to this album over and over again, with the best tracks being “Focus Schmocus,” “To Things Working Out,” and “Dellwood Park.”

 4/5 Stars

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