I remember when this came out in 1999 a friend of mine described it as "The album that Hot Water Music should have written". Perhaps back then that was a pretty applicable description. Many years have passed since then and today I find myself hearing this without seeing it through that lens. The record holds up on it's own and though we can still make comparisons to early Hot Water Music, this record seems to have developed it's own life over the years.
What Small Brown Bike offers you on this record is some interesting melodic hardcore that has some perfectly placed pauses and dynamics to emphasize the great dramatic effects of the music. The gruff vocal style keeps this from getting too pop sounding and maintains that "rough around the edges" style. In some ways I think I could compare this to Jawbreaker at times for it's driving melodic style when the band delves into some more upbeat territory.
There's some very subtle technical drum work happening all over the record. It mixes in well (check out about 2 minutes in to "Running, Swimming & Sinking") to the point where you don't necessarily even notice it upon first listen.