Album Review :
Showbread - Cancer

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Band: Showbread
Album: Cancer
Label: Come&Live!
Release: 9/25/12
Reviewer: BrodyB

  1.   I’m Afraid That I’m Me
  2.   Sex With Strangers
  3.   Anarchy!
  4.   You Were Born In A Prison
  5.   Germ Cell Tumor
  6.   Two – Headed Monster
  7.   Escape From Planet Cancer
  8.   You Will Die In A Prison
  9.   You Will Not Die In A Prison

Showbread is a band that thrives on change. They have always refused to stay static for more than one records cycle. Whether it be the revolving door of band members, the  quirky uniforms, or the stylistic change in music, Showbread has always defined themselves by never staying the same. While some would consider this constant change a lack of maturity or commitment, I have always found the change to be something endearing about the band. In a music industry where playing it safe is the road to success, it is always refreshing to see Showbread go against the grain and do whatever the heck they want.

Showbread’s sixth studio album, “Cancer” keeps the same trend of change going as it takes elements from every previous album, but stands on its’ own as an individual effort. An excellent example of seeing this conglomeration in action is the opener, I’m Afraid That I’m Me. In this track things go from piano ballads to punk beats to ska, and everything in between.

Besides the initial shock of seeing only nine tracks on the album (Fear not, time-wise you are not getting cheated), the first thing I noticed was how well each member of the band has come into their own as talented musicians. My only qualm with “Who Can Know It?” was the feeling that no particular instrumental performance stood out from any of the songs. That however, is not a problem on Cancer with each member of the band displaying a stand out performance. This is best displayed in songs like the aforementioned, I’m Afraid That I’m Me and Escape From Planet Cancer. The later of the two, which will have old and new fans alike joining together in agreement that it is one of the bands’ strongest songs ever. Starting off with a riff that sounds like it could have come straight off “No Sir, Nihilism is Not Practical” with blazingly fast punk sounding drums, heavily distorted guitars, and heavily synthesized keys. Soon the song transitions to something that sounds like a distant relative of “Age of Reptiles” with powerful chords and thick keys, before changing once again into guitars that sound like they would be comfortable in a Five Iron Frenzy album.

Germ Cell Tumor was another musical opus for me. While it does not do quite as much genre hopping as any of the previously mentioned songs, the more focused effort results in outstanding performances from each member of the band. From the fun up strummed guitars, to the wild bass lines and toe tapping drums, to the warm, slightly distorted synthesizers, Germ Cell Tumor is sure to tickle the listeners ears.

While the music is astounding on “Cancer”, it is only half of what the CD has to offer. With lyrics being the other half, front man Josh Dies has brought his A game on this record. As stated in Two-Headed Monster, “It’s easy to speak when the world loves what you have to say”. Showbread has never let this fact scare them away from speaking their mind and “Cancer” is no different. Josh Dies refuses to shy away from speaking his mind as he tackles issues such as Patriotism, Calvinism, and our general apathy to others.

Anarchy! finds Dies and company proclaiming, “We can smile and stand in line/ but we won’t lift our hands to pledge allegiance to a flag or to a piece of land/ non- violent non- resistance, sworn to honor our true King”. On Escape From Planet Cancer Dies passionately howls, “And over the sea in a warm, sunny place/ men and women sit watching TV/ they say, ‘It’s a shame anyone has to die, but it was either them or me'”. Later in the song gang vocals chant the inspiring lyrics, “Maybe there’s good to be done when darkness abounds/ We dare to hope/ Use love to beat evil down”. You Will Not Die In A Prison has some of Showbread’s most praise centered lyrics to date as Dies croons, “You will not die in the prison where you were born/ each promise that He makes is a promise that He keeps/ Though we go Your Kingdom comes/ Jesus don’t delay/ Erase the darkness once and for all/ Lord hasten the day”.

While my only gripe with the album will potentially be erased when I am able to watch the movie that comes with the physical release and see the story unfold more clearly, I unfortunately did not have that at my disposal for this review and am solely judging the music. With that being said, I found the pacing of the record to be a little strange towards the end. I felt that You Will Die In A Prison and You Will Not Die In A Prison to both be a little too similar in style and pace to be back to back. While I am sure there a was a reason to do so with the story, from a musical standpoint, these two songs back to back have a tendency to be a little dry and boring.

Overall: It is not often that a band can span so many genres and bring them all into one conglomerative effort without sounding like an A.D.D. mess. Showbread is an exception to being lumped in with all those other bands, and come off with their own unique sound that is both mature and interesting. “Cancer” is possibly the most refined effort from Showbread to date. Although they span so many genres, most even in the same song, the changes never come off as too much. “Cancer” is an album that will unify both old and new fans alike as there is a little something for everyone to enjoy.

I would give this record a 4.5 if rating allowed.

RIYL: The Flaming Lips, The Refused, Dies