Album Reviews: Lonely Starts & Broken Hearts by Left AloneLeft Alone's Elvis Cortez isn't what one would call an enigmatic lyricist, but just in case his listeners are left pondering the meaning of songs like "Broke My Heart" and "Dead Red Roses," he provides confessional liner notes to introduce each track. Appropriately, the music is just as straightforward as the message: straight-up ska-punk with a heavily nostalgic twist. The band direly needs that hyphen; when they abandon the dance-arousing playfulness of the ska sound, their songs are seldom anything beyond angsty sugar rushes. Ska is dated, sure, but so are other key Left Alone influences like Rancid and Operation Ivy, yet few would argue that those bands should be deprived of descendents.
Lonely Starts & Broken Hearts has all the right influences, and, as such, plays to its own strengths. Bouncy, breakneck, and perpetually heartbroken, Left Alone will appeal to a cross-section of punkers, from Rancid fans looking for something a little poppier in their older years to New Found Glory fans looking for something with a little more punch. On the hardness scale, they register somewhere around Goldfinger; just loud and antagonistic enough to ward off most parents and Top 40 programmers.
Listeners walk away from the album feeling like they've gotten to know Cortez, as he sings about his favorite car, his friend's addiction problem, his career struggles and all those girls who kicked his heart to the curb. There is a naivety that is almost charming about someone who would put "D.I.Y. till we die!!!!!!" on an album distributed by Epitaph. Left Alone have a lot of growing up to do. Doubtlessly, that's part of what keeps the energy and fun levels high, but it also marks them as imitators rather than innovators. - Adam McKibbin
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