Review: ‘A Rhythm in Cages’

The Taxpayers are described by Quote Unquote records as “equally poppy as they are noisy, explosive as they are muted, fun as they are serious.” This doesn’t even begin to describe how bipolar this band can be.

The album kicks off in a folk anthem, immediately crashes into a driving hardcore track (which quickly becomes a melodic pop punk song), and then we hit a noise rock influenced song with jumpy bass and drums, which transitions into a track four containing a polka bass. I think you get the point.

With many casual listeners, this lack of direction would signify a band that has no clue what they want, but with how perfectly each erratic change is executed, it’s clear that the Taxpayers aren’t amateurs. On melodic songs, the vocals seem to pierce every bit of harmony that the song ever had. Their harsh tendencies are reminiscent of early Jawbreaker, or even the Lawrence Arms, just way more sporadic.

Often, the lyrics seem like just random drivel thrown together with the beat of the song. On the track “Militaristic Kitchen,” they proclaim, “No borders, no boundaries, no authorities, no leaders, I love you.” What would often seem like an entry from an angsty teen’s diary is really something more. According to the Taxpayers, the song is in actuality dedicated to the “wonderful things people can do if they get disciplined, organized, and excited.” This amazing collage of message, abstract concepts, and catchy hooks balances out the lead singers raspy vocals, making even him seem to hold a melody, but who am I kidding, I loved his raspy vocals in the first place.

One of the best things about “A Rhythm in Cages” is how often each track will surprise you. It goes against any idea of album structure ever invented. The acoustic ballad is not the last track, the best songs are not shoved into the first half of the album, and the songs immediately next to each other never subside to the same genre.

I mean, the record is free to download via Quote Unquote records, so you can listen or not. I think it’s a great record, but it isn’t for everyone. It really isn’t for everyone. Very few people will enjoy the style, but I’d love for someone to prove me wrong.