It’s hard not to hear the raw, wryly disaffected fervor of a
young and still proudly unpolished Jawbreaker on Making Friends and Enemies, the exhilarating
debut from San Francisco’s latest
punk-flavored concoction, Cervantes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Rather than presenting a reasonable facsimile of their post-hardcore forebears,
the tight-knit four-piece recaptures the ferocious spirit of a time before
pop-punk came to be synonymous with bubblegum – you know, for the kids.
Here, lead singer Pat Scanlan lends his throaty, endearingly
ragged snarl to a series of up-tempo missives (“You’re Cold,” “Pushing Rope”)
and moody meditations on relationships gone sour (“Damaged Goods”). If the tone
isn’t always sunny, though, the results are invigorating and surprisingly
self-assured, filled with irrepressible hooks that demand repeat listening.
There’s potential here, no doubt. But there is also compelling evidence of a
band whose songcraft is already accomplished beyond their years. Strongly