There’s an inherent difficulty nowadays about finding things to say about bands like Introvert. Their general circle of gruff yet super-melodic and super-heartfelt punk only feels to be getting wider by the day, and when the bar for that top tier of quality remains as insanely high as it does, it can be tempting to paint a newer act like this as something of an underwhelming presence. After all, the gruff-punk sound tends to be characterised by the vigour and intensity of its performers rather than whether anything new is being done with the formula, and while Introvert’s holding place within the UNFD stable does place them as a fairly unique prospect within a narrowed context, being thrown into the deeper waters of their whole genre proves a much more difficult challenge. It’s not a lost cause by any means, but there’s the added pressure from those who’ve come before looming over Mending Breaking to be something that really blows the doors down.
And it’s easy to say this – in the ranks of a more accessible and slightly more polished variation of this sound that has the potential to really go far with a bit more seasoning, Mending Breaking fits that bill almost perfectly. Here, Introvert have the blockbuster choruses and melodies delivered with the from-the-gut conviction that this scene thrives on, but their approach is a bit more focused and sharpened overall. It’s reminiscent of Trophy Eyes’ more recent material in a sense, particularly in its widescreen ambition that stocks up on the gang vocals to vault over the top, and as a foundation, there truly is fertility for Introvert within that. That aforementioned seasoning is honestly more of a necessity that’ll come over time than a critical point to be addressed; Mending Breaking is doing a lot right on its own, possibly enough for Introvert to worm their way into the larger scene sooner rather than later.
Of course, it’s not like perfection is in safe reach just yet; it’s still relatively easy to tell that this is a new band, especially when it comes to the writing. Introvert’s broader framing of doubt and self-loathing does feel like an easy sell for as huge and bombastic as they’re trying to be (particularly when it’s fashioned into the sort of hook that live shows will hinge for the foreseeable future on a track like Somewhere Else), but the lack of weathered, buffeted detail is something that can hurt them overall. It’s mainly in the context of the alt-punk scene as a whole that this is noticeable, as Introvert aren’t quite hitting the same level of brutal honesty as a band like Hot Water Music or, again, even Trophy Eyes have found themselves drawn to and have executed exceptionally well. This all hits with a bluntness that can certainly be felt, but Mending Breaking can often feel as though it lacks the extra coarse edge to dig below the surface, and thus the visceral sting doesn’t quite last as long.
But in the business of dishing out that bluntness with remarkable efficiency, Mending Breaking paints a picture of a band with a lot to offer, especially with what they’re already doing. This is the sort of meaty punk sound that always seems to lean into the right amount of gallop and verve, while keeping the need to ease back and create a tangible balance in sight. It’s done brilliantly on a track like As Long As You Know, where the glossier production from Trophy Eyes’ The American Dreams feels similarly cinematic but never intrusive, and the muscular guitars and Audie Franks’ torn but triumphant vocals throw out just one of many battering hooks on an EP that’s full on them. Admittedly a cranked-up pace isn’t something that Introvert have thrown themselves too far into, but the swell and size of what’s here can easily make up for that, especially when it’s so direct. There’s a clear earnestness that’s difficult to fake, something that inflates Introvert’s efforts to even greater heights and locks down just how much power this band could have with just a few more tweaks.
It’s the beauty of a formula that’s as simple but effective as this one is. Mending Breaking isn’t exactly something new, but what it is feels honed and focused to a degree that’s far beyond Introvert’s years. By comparison to everything they do right, the slightly looser writing does stand out in a negative way more than would be liked, but that’s also pretty minor when considering everything else that Introvert currently have more or less nailed, and how there’s still a lot of experience for this band to pick up yet. They’re on footing that’s already rock-solid, and the progression over time they’ll pick up naturally is only going to ensure that remains the case.
For fans of: Trophy Eyes, Columbus, Ceres
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Mending Breaking’ by Introvert is released on 21st February on UNFD.