Expire “Pretty Low” Album Review

Expire Pretty Low Album Cover

Before I start this review, I just wanted to say how stoked I was when I saw that a quote by us went out with the press release for this album! It kind of blew my mind that the band or Bridge 9 had even heard of us. “Titled Pretty Low, this new album features eleven tracks of honest and uncompromising hardcore and is the follow-up to Expire’s B9 debut Pendulum Swings which was called ‘one of the best hardcore albums to be released this decade’ by Rise HXC.” You can read an old interview we did with Expire here.

Pretty Low is the second full length release (first was Pendulum Swings) from one of the American Mid-West’s finest hardcore bands, Expire. It was mastered by Jay Maas from Getaway Studios, so it goes without saying that the quality of the actual music on this 11 track album is mind-blowing. Everything is super clear, while not compromising on the dark, dirty sound Expire are known for.

One of my favourite things about Expire is how bouncy/groovy their music is. You’ll have your head bobbing along to the music before the first 10 seconds into the first song, the title track, “Pretty Low”. Maximum mosh and bounce. In my opinion this album is even a bit heavier than Pendulum Swings, especially obvious to me in some of the guitar riffs and Zach’s backing vocals. It is obvious how hard they’re playing in the recordings. Marcus beats those drums harder than most ever will, and Josh belts out some of the most aggressive, honest and heart-felt vocals you’ll most likely ever hear in hardcore. Forget programmed instruments and over-mastered sugar coating; this is real, honest, heavy, tight hardcore at its best.

The lyrics for Pretty Low are once again pretty personal sounding lyrics, and I love them. They are just really open and honest, and I can feel something of what Josh (or whoever else wrote them) was going through when writing them. I can personally relate to a few of them, and this is what I love about Expire. They are not trying to be gods or rock stars, they’re just writing angry, “human” music with angry, human lyrics that anyone can relate to. They are often quite dark, depressing or melancholy sounding, but at the same time, often encouraging e.g. “and if a day comes / where I miss the light / it’s only I that can turn the tide / I’m at a crossroad / where you choose / you either fight or you lose / refuse to let my life be reduced to rubble”. This is what I went through, this is what I’m feeling, and maybe you’re also feeling like this, but all hope is not lost; I got through it, so you can too. That’s what I get from the lyrics anyway.

I must admit that my ears pricked up straight away when I heard the line “I won’t shed another tear for just another set of tits” in Just Don’t, because it sounded pretty sexist, but reading more about the motivation behind them, and reading it in context with the rest of the song’s lyrics, made me realise that it can be translated in a few ways. I don’t think for one second that Expire meant this to be demeaning of women. Personally I feel like the lyrics are expressing frustration at the lyricist’s self, at chasing unhealthy relationships based on things like good looks. Any doubt was wiped away with the lyrics to Fiction anyway.

I’m sure that a lot of people will be able to relate to coming across the type of “leech” that the lyrics to Nobody talk about. One of my favourite tracks on the album has to be Forgetting, both because it is fucking heavy, and because the lyrics are so honest. Losing who you are in vices and escapism is something that we all do sometimes. Callous is about something I personally think about pretty often: “I don’t know why we bother / To heed the words of our fathers”. It screams in the face of the lie that if you work hard and just try to make money, you will find happiness. You can almost taste the anger and hatred in the lyrics to If It Were Up To Me, at someone’s anger at not being able to save someone from the horror of sexual abuse. This was also one of my favourite songs on the album. Second Face ends off the album in true moshy Expire style.

Definitely one of the best releases of this year in my opinion.

The official release date for Pretty Low is June 17. Get a shovel.

Pretty Low Track listing:
1. Pretty Low
2. Just Don’t
3. Fiction
4. Gravity
5. Nobody
6. Old Habits
7. Forgetting
8. Callous
9. Rejection
10. If It Were Up To me
11. Second Face

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