El Escapado’s music is very much like that beer-swirling-lunatic at any punk show you’ve ever been to. You know the one; that guy or gal who is trying WAY too hard to have a good time when’s it clear that they are a ticking time bomb waiting to happen. “The Not So Full – Full Length EP” E.P. is an album consisting of party songs and angry heart-on-your sleeve anthems. The music has potential to walk that fine line between goofy and tragic but in the end, it ultimately stumbles because these guys are more concerned with their own mythology and the appearance that they are having the time of their life.
El Escapado is easily at their best during the moments when they let their guard down, which is why it’s so aggravating that this is the side that they feel is not worth advertising. I mean look at their smiley, stoned and drunken faces on the front cover! Cut down all the self-aggrandizing though and you have a solid, old-fashioned hardcore punk album! At their best, Abe Mesaris’s lyrics are breathtakingly honest, poignant, and furious and they mesh beautifully with Chris Johnson’s frantic guitar interplay and sledgehammer tone. You can tell even from a recording that this is a band worth seeing live because they would probably smash you into a million pieces.
The best evidence of what these guys are capable of is on the excellent “Good Intentions.” There is enough adrenaline pulsating through it so as to not make you think too much but make no mistakes its message is enough to make you want to cry in your beer. It tells the story of a young girl named Amy who lost her battle with drug addiction and the loved one who feels guilt for not being able to save her. It closes with the repetition of the words “Much too sudden/Too young to die” until the song fades away. It’s gut wrenching and drenched in guilt and makes you wonder if it’s a true story. It may or not be but goddamn if it doesn’t feel real.
The quality of the album takes an immediate nosedive with proceeding track “Letzte.” Dear lord, I have rarely seen a band sabotage themselves so badly. It was almost as if they were too ashamed of showing vulnerability, so they made the most annoying thing they could think of. The song is THIRTEEN minutes of background chatter that is mixed above the song’s music so you can’t even hear what they are playing. I guess it’s supposed to capture the feeling of a real live show but it’s just NOT fun to listen to at all. To make matters worse, there are a good four or five minutes when the whole mix is taken over by voicemails of fans praising or jokingly insulting the band. It is self-indulgence of the highest order. Why should we care what your friends think of your band? Show; don’t tell.
There is, however, a good minute and a half of the song, where the audience chatter dims a bit and we can hear what the band is playing. It’s fitting because once again it’s the part of themselves that they dare not show a crowd. It’s this moment which really shows what these guys are capable of and the way they should be heard. With a little more image retooling, they could be the band that reaches the introverts at home and not just the boisterous drunkards at the show.
Written by Shawn Thicke
*edited by Danielle Kenedy