It’s a bit of an understatement to say that a new record from The Bronx is well overdue. The two Mariachi El Bronx records were different and interesting, but with ‘The Bronx IV’ the “proper” band are finally back with new material.

The band have been a constantly excellent live force over the years, and each record has been well received to date – quite likely because they seem to work to their own clock when deciding to go into the studio. Consequently, and following on from 2008′s third eponymous record, this latest self-titled effort feels like it’s been made by a very hungry band indeed.

Their trademark blues punk crunch comes enhanced this time around with a better sense of melody and bigger production, and it really does the album no end of favours  (if you like that sort of thing). It also feels like the band have found their sweet spot creatively – each song glides into the next effortlessly – so it’s an exciting and refreshing record from start to finish. It doesn’t feel too short or too long either, and it’s very easy to leave it going around in circles for hours.

Opener ‘The Unholy Hand’, ‘Ribcage’ and ‘Pilot Light’ are excellent, and many moments on ‘The Bronx IV’ impress in general, but it is with ‘Torches’ that the band deliver a sparkling moment. Matt Caughthran’s verse vocal is subtle, strong and agile, leading into a stomping 6/8 chorus that’ll stay lodged in your head long after the album finishes a circuit. ‘Life Less Ordinary’ also stands out for its lack of rhythm section, and it serves as an excellent tension bulder into the closing moments of a record that remains focused over many dynamic peaks and troughs.

The Bronx’s ability to make something unique from blues, punk and hardcore influences has made them exciting, and there’s little doubt that ‘The Bronx (IV)’ will keep them going from some years to come. 2013 has a lot of work to do to match 2012 for great albums, but The Bronx have helped get it out of the starting blocks well with this release. Someone might want to tell them that the verse melody of ‘Valley Heat’ sounds a bit like ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’, though. Just saying.

TOM AYLOTT