I’m no music composer, so maybe there’s a logical explanation for how a band who seems to only play two alternating chords on the guitar can write such melodic, catchy 2023post-hardcore songs? While doing their best Interpol imitation. The gruff singing isn’t covering up the clean, chimey staccato and snakey basslines that sound more traditionally post-punk than the hardcore it purports to be. Which, frankly, is just fine with me. I like melody and song structure and some variety. It can’t all just be at eleven every second of every minute of an album. I mean, it can be, but music need not be an assault with every spin.
And I think its here where Militarie Gun both succeeds and suffers on Life Under the Gun. I think they call it splitting the baby. Which, frankly, is a horrendous term. Again, I enjoy the pop song structures here. The dialing back of what has to be the more agro leanings of the hardcore pedigree. The 2002 indie rock of it all on tracks like “Will Logic,” with its light harmonies, repeating chords and little bouts of talk-singing. With a little tweak to Militarie Gun’s more metal-y production, you could throw some of this record on and completely fool the listener into thinking it came out twenty years ago. Which, again, is right in my wheelhouse. But — and here is where the baby gets mutilated — this might be too much that way for those looking for a “harder” experience. Sure, they nod to it, but only kind of three-quarters commit to their harder inclinations. So, maybe a little too bro-ey for Strokes fans and a little too Foo Fighters for the more hardcore leaning dudes.
There are a few songs — “Think Less” comes to mind — that do feel a bit generic in their offing. A little too simplistic and almost vanilla in their approach. They are kind of one-note, genreless tunes in the hard rock vein that will probably please neither melody-hogs like me, nor the more aggressive audience who at least wants some serious guitar chug or raw-throated volume. They can just come off as like the weakest version of a Stone Temple Pilots song. When that band couldn’t decide if it was a metal band, or if it should be grunge or indie rock or theatrical whatever. And they just kind of made some super-blah middling metal-rock tunes that pleased nobody. To be fair, though, that isn’t the majority of this record, but a couple crop up in its saggier center.
Otherwise, this is an incredibly catchy album. The melodic choruses sometimes come out of nowhere in an almost intentional way. The songs tend to start off and give the impression that they’re going to be samey-samey with the track before it, but they save the fun and pop for the downshift into the heart of the song, using the more chugga-chugga yelling for the intros and outtros. I’m not a musicologist, obviously. The point is that, even upon multiple listens, I’m consistently surprised by the band’s ability to flex into what, on their surface, are pretty pop-like tunes. It’s a super-entertaining listen and one that I will definitely come back to in my 2024 wanderings.