The Apology Wars is an impressive debut from this intelligent Australian punk-rock quartet. Blueline Medic's members have strong punk credentials (Caustic Soda, Bradshaw Figure, Mid Youth Crisis, Rail and Pollyanna). They've already worked up an impressive CV as a support act (At The Drive-In, Jimmy Eat World, NOFX, the Get Up Kids); now they're offering convincing proof that Melbourne's punk scene is far from stale.
The band doesn't rely on clichés. Where some groups would blithely hit a few power-chords and throw in some lyrics about cute girls, Blueline Medic mix musical innovation and strong songwriting. Most tracks on the album shift dynamically between time signatures, incorporate diverse rhythm sounds and avoid melodramatic finales.
Among the band's most defining features is singer Donnie Dureau, whose voice mixes elements of Morrissey at his most muted and defeated with touches of Samiam and Knapsack's vocalists. Dureau's lyrics focus on two favorite punk-rock themes politics and personal troubles along with some classic character studies. By far the best song here, "Making the Nouveau Riche," features Dureau's most Morrissey-influenced vocal offering a political and personal "get fucked" to those who doubt other people's place in society.
Burning Airlines/ex-Jawbox leader J. Robbins at the engineering helm brings a welcome clarity to this release. His mix's subtle touches the barely-there handclaps and vocal harmonies deliver their rewards after repeated, attentive listens.