It's hard for me to believe that Austin-based foursome Breaklights is just now releasing its debut album. I started writing about this band in 2016, and its releases have been consistently excellent over the years. But sure enough, Wind Down (out now on Wiretap Records) is Breaklights' first full-length release following three terrific EPs. While a Breaklights debut album may have been a long time coming, Wind Down sure does not disappoint. Splendidly produced by Deedle Lacour, this ten-song long player finds Breaklights doing what they do best: putting a modern spin on 1990s "big label" pop-punk. The selling point for this band has always been how silky-smooth Charlie is on lead vocals. Well guess what: Breaklights now feature two smooth voices as guitarist Dan has stepped up to write and sing three tracks on Wind Down! Sometimes adding a second singer to the mix can mess with a band's mojo. But in the case of Breaklights, this move into dual front-man mode has absolutely strengthened the band. Dan contributes three of the album's best tracks, and his vocal style blends perfectly with Charlie's (We'll let them fight amongst themselves as to which one is the Bob Mould of the band and which one is Grant Hart). This is definitely the best Breaklights release yet in terms of song quality. I would struggle to identify a single sub-par track out of the ten on the album. If you're looking for vintage Breaklights massive-sounding melodic punk, songs like "Dream On," "Crushed," "Sixty Five," and the album's lead single "When You Talk" are guaranteed to satisfy. If you're looking for something a little different as well, Wind Down has got you covered. "Illinois" and the extraordinary "Aging Well" are rare pop-punk acoustic ballads that aren't throwaways. And album closer "Fairview, 1991" is a true epic that will absolutely tear your heart out.
When it comes to modern-day punk rock, Breaklights are the definition of class. This band's gimmick is that it has no gimmick. These guys write fantastic songs full of genuine emotion and quality hooks. They take inspiration from past pop-punk greats without trying to straight-up copy them. Wind Down manages to push all the right buttons for my '90s pop-punk nostalgia while still keeping this form of music vital and current in 2022. Transparent lime green vinyl copies are still available if you act fast!