Photo: Christian Quiroz
brakence is a name you need to know. Self-described as "self care punk," the project of 18-year-old Randy Findell takes it initial inspiration from the empathic musings of EDEN and Jeremy Zucker. Yet, where he differs from his nearest cohorts is in how these tales of coming-of-age, teenage heartache, and the outside world arrive as intoxicating portraits of anti-pop pushed to their limits. It is this fusion of emotional catharsis and enthralling hyperpop that builds the foundation for his latest single, "sauceintherough," and sophomore album, punk2.
Pinning down brakence's sophomore album, originally released March 26, at times feels like a fool's errand. The 18-year-old purveyor regularly charges forward with a reckless abandon that sees him taking bits and pieces of seemingly endless inspiration to create a wholly originally sonic collage. Take "prozac," with its lo-fi hip-hop opening and closing, Bon Iver pitch-shifted vocals, melodic guitar, and woozy trap-inspired backbeat, all of which soon enough gives way to a pop punk outburst. This is no mere exception; for brakence, this seems to be the rule.
Revisiting the criminally overlooked punk2, the album opener, “tonight’s no good how about wednesday oh you’re in dallas on wednesday oh ok well then let’s just not see each other for 8 months,” becomes all the more daring the second time around (and not just because of its Midwest emo evoking title). The opening track is a less of a song and more of a wonderfully twisting and turning soundscape, as if an FM dial was left to turn aimlessly in search of something just beyond the fuzz.
That is not to say brakence's sole gift lies in how regularly he demonstrates his prowess for adventurous sound design. Standout tracks like "dropout" and "fuckboy" betray their knee-jerk sophomoric connotation to present a picture of chaotic young adulthood that is nothing short of infectious. The same can be said of "sauceintherough."
Arriving as both a punk2 bonus track and brakence's Columbia Records debut, "sauceintherough" sees the experimental pop purveyor sprinting forward with the same reckless abandon that makes each of his tracks such a heartfelt adrenaline rush. punk2 and “sauceintherough" feel like only the beginning, and you can be certain that we will be here for whatever brakence has in store.
Listen to "sauceintherough" and punk2 (w/sauce) below: