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Album Review: Make Do And Mend - Part And Parcel EP

Connecticut's Make Do and Mend stand out from the slew of hardcore acts they're are often associated with by making their music more accessible and easily palatable, without compromising on their integrity. Last year's 'End Measured Mile' was a stand-out release in the punk scene, combining intelligent lyrics and belligerent musical accompaniment.

So, it's a slightly strange move when the band has decided to follow this up with the 'Part and Parcel' EP a six-track offering, including three re-workings of songs from their debut full-length, a Touche Amore cover and two new songs.

It kicks off in a familiar way to 'End Measured Mile' with 'Unknowingly Strong', but to call this track, and indeed any of the 'covers' on this EP, acoustic versions, is to undermine the sheer talent that this band has. These are almost different songs that evoke completely different moods. In fact, there's a pleasure in playing the acoustic and full-blooded versions side-by-side, to see how two seemingly identical songs can be constructed so differently. Of all three re-workings, it is only 'Ghostal' where the acoustic version doesn't improve on the original version, though it's not to say it's a bad song.

The band – and despite this being an 'acoustic' endeavor it is still the whole band involved – their take on the Touche Amore track, 'Home Away From Here', proving that they can completely deconstruct and expertly reconstruct another band's song as well as their own. It'll find fans of both bands slowly nodding their heads in agreement, it's a brave cover but they pull it off. One of the most rewarding parts of this EP is just how good James Carroll's lyrics really are. While you can miss the odd lyrical flourish behind the pounding music of their full-calibre versions, Carroll's lyrics, and indeed his voice itself, take center stage in these stripped-back versions. 'Transparent Seas' is the prime example of this. This is not just the best track on the EP, nor the best reworking of an existing song, it's easily one of the best tracks you will hear in 2011. The two new tracks show the band carrying on the theme and, it will be interesting to see if Make Do and Mend can pull off the opposite trick in the future and take the acoustic 'Coats' and 'Untitled' in the other direction. They both bode well for the band's future output though, showing off Carroll's lyrical strength to its fullest, 'Untitled' tackling the same religious themes that 'Transparent Seas' established.

This is a strong stand-alone EP from a talented band, but it gets even better when listened to in conjunction with their previous LP. There will be some debate which versions of these songs the band should play live, and a full album in this musical style will neither be unwelcome nor unexpected.


'Part and Parcel' is out now.

Nick Robbins

Alter The Press!