by Allison Kridle
I came across the Tulsa-bred punk band Broncho in my almost 20s, half way through college. I didn’t do hard drugs and didn’t party every weekend, I pretty much holed up listening to indie records, imagining I was somewhat of a non-menacing outlaw. When I rode my candy colored vespa through my semi-lively (and hilly) college town blasting Broncho through my headphones, I had the confidence of James Dean. I felt like I was on my worst behavior.
Most form an opinion of Broncho after listening to the four piece’s hit “Class Historian” off their second LP Just Enough Hip to be Woman. The indie pop song’s rapid and spikey “do’s” and lead singer Ryan Lindsey’s slurred and high pitch vocals coat the track in sugar and give it a satisfying fizz. For a band that previously rooted their sound in old school punk and wrote lyrics like, “Don’t you try to come to my record store,” and “I got a psychiatrist for you,” off their debut LP Can’t Get Past the Lips, it was a nice side step and gave the band and their fans a wider space to crawl out of. They went from the cool freaks in 80s movies that you secretly wanted to befriend to the kid next door you play video games with.
Broncho remains cool and sexy (in a Ramones kind of way) through their fourth LP Bad Behavior via Park the Van Records even when there is honey-soaked pop involved. About a year before the LP’s release, the band put out the single “Get in My Car,” and I thought their sourness was long gone. Lindsey sings alongside bubbly riffs, “I like to go fast, I like to go far/Won't you open that door? Get in my car/Don't have to be alone, don't have to be hard.” A feel-good song that acted as a grand precursor to Bad Behavior’s competing tones. Almost as if Lindsey is saying “Come on in, and I’ll show you some things. It doesn’t matter if you belong with us or not.”
In “Weekend,” Lindsey coos, “I'm a big boy, baby/I got stuck with you instead.” His siren-esque “ohs” are joined in by a deep, suspenseful bass line paired with a new wavey melody. Lindsey reassures us he’s not shaken by much (not even Metallica) in “Sandman.” With a classic psychedelic riff, Lindsey sings, “I sleep on empty/Can't beat me/I want it in bed/Or nothing at all.” The whole song makes it seem like there’s a thin layer of dust and a tint of orange engulfing you.
More so than ever before, the talented foursome has grabbed at a wider audience, and most likely caught some by the throat thanks to the bumping tracks “Boys Got to Go” and “Keep It in Line.” The latter is light, catchy and fills me with nostalgia for the time I first heard the indie pop exemplar, “Walking on a Dream,” by Empire of the Sun. Two very different bands, but both contain almost everything needed for an indie pop jam: heavenly falsetto, unshakable melody and a gratifying sing-along chorus. “Boys Got to Go” serves the ears similarly. The chugging rhythm compliments Lindsey’s chimes, “I need an open mind, I need an open mouth.” If you enjoyed “Highly Unintentional” from their 2016 LP Double Vanity, then this will be your new high point.
I’m sure many of us don’t like to hear that a punk band we love is starting to sprinkle in well, sprinkles, into their music, but Broncho maintains their no nonsense “bad boy” vibes by keeping songs in their lineup about drug thirsty gangs (“Big City Boys”) and composing lines like “You might be in the corner with baby/You might be in the corner with me,” (“Undercover”). If any modern day indie band could make pop grittier and cooler--and make it their own without full conformity--it would be Broncho.