ALBUM REVIEW: Militarie Gun - Life Under the Gun
Encouraging debut from Los Angeles punk band
Life Under the Gun – the debut album by Los Angeles’s Militarie Gun is punchy. Punchy guitars, punchy vocals, punchy lyrics and, more often than not, punchy drums. It’s music which doesn’t leave much to the imagination and throws everything into its making, however, in some of the quieter, more introspective moments, you get a glimpse of where the band could go next.
The project of vocalist and bandleader, Ian Shelton, he is joined by guitarists, Nick Cogan and William Acuña, drummer, Vince Nguyen and for this album, Max Epstein on bass. Having formed in 2020, Militarie Gun have since released two EPs and toured extensively.
Thematically, a lot of the songwriting centres on Shelton’s difficult upbringing in a household plagued with addiction. For such weighty topics, the album flies by, its 12 tracks registering comfortably under the half-hour mark.
Kicking off with lead single, ‘Do It Faster’, the impatient calls over pounding drums, catchy guitar chords and Shelton’s distinctive vocals shows Militarie Gun at the pinnacle of their powers. ‘Very High’ – the second single off the album – covers addiction though the chorus lyrics of ‘I’ve been feeling pretty down, so I get very high’ don’t offer much depth to the matter.
Militarie Gun. Photo credit: Daniel Topete
Next up is current single, ‘Will Logic’, which features enjoyable guitar interplay from Cogan and Acuña as Shelton touchingly laments the end of a friendship. Other highlights include the Sum 41-esque ‘Think Less’, ‘Return Policy’ which does a nice line in contrasting Shelton’s barked vocals in the verse with the pop-punk chorus, ‘Seizure of Assets’ which details being on the receiving end of the name of the song and features the memorable lyric of ‘bloody bastard leeches keep sucking on me’ and ‘Sway Too’ where Shelton pines for a better life.
Less successful is the mellotron-led ‘See You Around’ where Shelton’s harsh vocals grate against the gentle instrumentation and the generic-sounding ‘Never Fucked Up Once’. Aside from those mentioned, the rest of the pack are all good without being great and overall, you’re left with the impression of a solid opening salvo which hints at the promise of greater things in future.
The harshness of Shelton’s vocals won’t be for everyone but is in keeping with the punk ethos of the band and when he leans into poppier terrain, it’s generally a positive move. Similarly, when the band search for different terrains away from the enjoyable punk sound, it’s a more intriguing whole. Life Under the Gun hints at a more intriguing proposition further down the track, but for now Militarie Gun are delivering with their two-minute blasts of energetic punk.
Life Under the Gun is out on Friday (23 June) via Loma Vista Recordings