Captain, We’re Sinking’s The Future Is Cancelled was one of the most impressive punk albums in recent memory. It’s a tense listening experience, as songs burst and crash with little warning; vocalists Bobby Barnett and Leo Vergnetti jumped between near-inaudible whispers and throat-damaging howls at the drop of a dime, singing harrowing stories of depression, alcoholism, and suicide. It all felt spontaneous, necessary.
The King of No Man feels a bit more rehearsed. Where before the band had more jagged edges, they’ve smoothed them over. Instead of finding catharsis through ragged shouting as on The Future, No Man finds it in quieter moments, to varying effects. Opener “Trying Year” ushers this new era of Captain, We’re Sinking in appropriately, pumping the brakes every time one would think Barnett’s getting ready to let loose (although he or Vergnetti does sneak a pretty impressive guitar solo in there). “Hunting Trip” is a slowburn comparable to “A Bitter Divorce” with a less intense payoff, finding Barnett singing the song’s climactic final lines over a clean guitar line. It feels a bit toothless in the end, like there should’ve been a little more push to end out the song, and it sort of sputters out rather than exploding. Then there’s “Dance of Joy,” a bizarre, drum-led song that would never fit on The Future Is Cancelled. It’s weird to even think the same band wrote this song and “Shoddy Workmanship,” but it ends up being one of the album’s highlights, due in good part to Vergnetti’s powerful vocal performance.