Tracklisting: Cordite / Salvage / Ternary Means ABA / Even Other Jazzers / Nil Nil / Of Youth / Pierced With Arrows / That Ship Has Sailed, Old Friend / Lynd Ward / .
Mid-life crisis punk rock, it’s the situation we find ourselves in as music’s most abrasive genre hits 40. Will it dye its hair, date the au-pair – do we even fucking care? Has song craft moved on from the days of snotty angst and semi-literate rebellion? Is their space in our lives for freshly filled bile bombs?
Seemingly thrusting themselves beyond the genre’s inception to the dawn of humanity for inspiration, Trials of Early Man (four 30-somethings from the South of England, with an innate passion for pop-hooks and propulsive punk) kick off 2016 with a remarkable clarion call in the shape of debut album Attachments. Punk rock ain’t finished with you brothers and sisters, fuck the naysayers, a glorious wrath is here to engulf your hearts and minds.
So I guess you’ll want to know the inspiration before reading further? I know how this works, spot some bands you dig and pray the resulting album lives up to the comparison. One glance at Trials of Early Man’s Facebook reveals a love of Hot Snakes, Drive Like Jehu, Jawbox, Fugazi, and At The Drive-In and one listen to Attachments delivers a band who immerse themselves in the sounds of early Emo and 90s post-hardcore. So far so good, but there’s more going on here, these guys have been round the block long enough to want to poke their heads above the punk parapets. So the magnificent “Ternary Means ABA” sounds a little like a weary Mike Skinner fronting Fall of Troy with its beautifully yearning refrain “we’ll never ride horses in France” whilst “Pierced with Arrows” creates huge pop thrills within emo confines without remotely sounding anything like fucking Fall Out Boy.
This is the sound of punk rock with soul; eager to show it’s all grown up and ready to take on the big bad world. At once able to embrace experimental maelstroms of noise (“Nil Nil” – the sound of a hurricane let loose in an instrument store) and potential festival chant-alongs (the massive “That Ship Has Sailed, Old Friend”) without ever losing focus or fire. Just because the hairline has receded and the paunch has demanded an extra hole in the belt doesn’t mean the ire has died. Punk, by its very nature, deals with the very human conditions of fear and mistrust and Attachments cascades with moments of sheer terror at the world around it; a dread undiminished by age. Let’s “put this down to experience” frontman Ambrose wails on “Salvage” and amongst the thrillingly catchy instrumentation the frustration of modernity, adulthood, and injustices explode in technicolour aggression.
Built around a formidable rhythm section the 10 tracks on Attachments each burst into the world in elegant anger. The short, punchy opener “Cordite” builds towards a crescendo of exquisite guitar and soaring vocal and features some incredible clattering drums, “Even Other Jazzers” pops with urgent bass and searing guitars like a long lost slice of classic post-hardcore and “Lynd Ward” creates a disorientating whirl of jittery paranoia. Meanwhile, when “Of Youth” allows the pace to drop for a welcome dose of reflective hostility it’s not unfair to conjure images of Trials of Early Man astride “November Rain”-esque wind-swept hill tops, so epic in scope is the album centre piece.
So where do we find punk rock in 2016? If the debut from Trials of Early Man is any indicator the 20th Century’s last great cultural phenomena is as antagonistic, vigorous, and creative as ever, ready to take on all comers, undaunted by fickle fashions and fleeting juvenile exuberance. Attachments is a record to play at speaker bursting levels from the rooftops of every building, in every city around the globe – just keep it out of your convertible sports car grandad, you’ll look like a cunt.
Rating 4 out of 5
THIS REVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON BEARDED GENTLEMEN MUSIC.
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