Sound: Setting themselves apart from other "pop-punk" bands, The Loved Ones plant themselves firmly on the punk side of the border with a sound that is nostalgic and youthful in equal measure. If you've heard their excellent debut, "Keep Your Heart", "Build & Burn" will surely not disappoint, conforming to much the same formula as used before. However, this is not to say that the two albums are practically identical; here The Loved Ones develop their sound with more imaginative lead guitar riffs ("The Bridge") and occasional keys ("Selfish Masquerade"), both of which contribute to an album that conveys that youthful sound, only with a little more maturity than before.
"Pretty Good Year" picks up exactly where "Keep Your Heart" left off, with a two-minute, four-chord blast of punk happiness, which then leads into "The Inquirer", a truly fantastic song, maybe their best yet. "The Bridge" the only single off the album, simply screams to be a punk anthem, whilst track 8 "Louisiana" is a ridiculously catchy effort, featuring guest appearances from both Franz Nicolay and Tad Kubler of "The Hold Steady", the latter producing an excellent guitar solo. All in all, The Loved Ones have managed to successfully develop their sound in a seemingly natural progression from their first album. // 8
Lyrics: Once again, Dave Hause displays his songwriting talents in "Build & Burn" right from the first track; "I've been finding myself praying when I'm deepest in the sin, I've been reinventing happiness again" The lyrical content and delivery is not so much punk as straight-up-rock at times, though the vocals and music do manage to blend seamlessly, perhaps most evident in "The Bridge" with the unforgettable "Hey!" backing vocals.
The real vocal gem here though is without doubt "The Inquirer". Hause's delivery is excellent throughout, but particularly in the seemingly never-ending "Yeah" that ushers in the final chorus. Personally, this is one of my favourite vocal parts of all-time, a slice of raw, joy-inducing punk genius. // 9
Overall Impression: On "Keep Your Heart" I felt The Loved Ones echoed early Green Day, but on "Build & Burn" the band has successfully matured and developed, particularly in their use of less conventional instruments. The most impressive songs here would have to be "The Inquirer" and "The Bridge" though there is not a single one which really lets the album down. My one criticism would be in the length of the album; a meagre 10 songs, but this is only minor as it is enough to let the album's message of building and burning get across. Overall, a very impressive effort from a band who still have not gained the level of recognition they surely deserve. // 8