The Sky We Scrape play catchy melodic hardcore that isn’t afraid to take detours into post-hardcore and pop punk. Divides is their debut full length and on it they celebrate all that is anthemic about punk rock. There’s an infectiousness alive in their music, where even when it’s anger or bitterness, it can’t help but feel righteous. The Sky We Scrape temper their 90s epifat ways with the introspectiveness and ragged edges of modern punk. The result is Divides, a great album that serves as a perfect introduction to summer.
Warmly toned, twisting guitar leads open “Sing Your Way Home,” a solid opener with a chorus that sticks like glue. To call it flawless would be a lapse in judgement though, as its lyrics lack substance and its chug-a-chug breakdowns (a crutch they lean on far too often for my taste) border dangerously into the territory of mall-ready easycore. While not perfect, “Sing Your Way Home” isn’t undone by its imperfections and excels through it’s catchy songwriting. “Nocturnal Americans” is another song with big hooks, but this time with much improved lyricism. Filled with striking imagery and a huge, anti-commercialism chorus (‘Why do your dreams come from the magazine?”), “Nocturnal Americans” is one of Divides highlights.
“Sweet Vermouth” is a driving, dynamic song– moving from buzzsaw chords and sung-to-the-edge-of-hoarseness vocals to clean arpeggios and clean, melodic singing. By the end of the track, the guitar becomes a sinister off-kilter backing character, subtly hinting towards dissonance with its atmospheric playing. “Albatross” is one of the weaker tracks on the Divides, owed mostly to guest vocalist Garrett Dale from Red City Radio. Dale is a fine a punk vocalist, but one wonders why he was included at all, as his throaty delivery is so bizarrely mismatched with The Sky We Scrapes’ cleaner style. The song itself isn’t bad, but definitely could have been improved with more thoughtful recording decisions.
The final track, “How We Begin,” is a tour-de-force with its passionate vocal delivery and aggressive instrumentation. Its overall darker sound is in part due to the persistence of the rhythm section, which makes it feel tightly athletic in its forward momentum. When the flurry of guitar leads kick in near the end of the song, the release is cathartic.
Divides is melodic hardcore played through the lens and context of modern punk rock. While The Sky We Scrape are as introspective as anyone else in the scene today, they never leave behind the sense of fun and energy that informed the skate punk of yesteryear. If anything, they’ve reinvigorated it with their scream-your-heart out passion. And while Divides isn’t perfect, its sticky melodies kept me loving it in spite of its handful of minor flaws– and for a jaded beardo like myself, that’s pretty good.