UK pop punk has always been a bit lame. The weather’s crap over here so we can’t go out skating that much, so I guess this is hardly surprising. However, of late we’re having a bit of a surge of quality UKPP that’s hard to ignore. Leading the way are the shamelessly poppy (and none the worse for it) Neck Deep, their sophomore Life’s Not Out To Get You being a critical and commercial success. In their wake, however, there have been many other bright lights of the UK scene starting to step up to the global stage. This year we saw south-coast emo merchants Moose Blood take to the fabled US Warped Tour, whilst UK bands are being hoovered up by American heavyweight record labels like Pure Noise or Hopeless. I’m not patriotic, but to finally hear bands not harking on about graduation or the price of a Taco Bell is genuinely fantastic.
Of the UK pack the latest to step up to take a swing at the big-time are Boston Manor, weighing in with their Pure Noise debut Saudade. The Blackpool quintet kick of the EP with the picked single notes of ‘Gone‘, which soon gives way to some more typically pop-punk riffage. Cutting across the top of all this is the incredibly distinctive vocals of Henry Cox. Cox’s control at the higher end of his range is stunning, incorporating just the right amount of grit to the performance. The track’s bouncy chorus with a singalong bridge of ‘wrap me in bedsheets’ makes for a promising start.
The pace drops for the single ‘Trapped Nerve’. Already a live staple, this song once again errs on just the right side of aggression, focussing instead on the nuanced minor arrangement of the band as a whole. This song introduces one of the more interesting facets of Boston Manor; they are by far and away the most mature pop-punk band on the circuit today. Not that this is to the detriment of their pop-songwriting chops, with the ‘so chew me up, spit me out’ of the chorus a notable fists-in-the-air moment.
The third track ‘Asleep at the Wheel’ is also the third track to clock in at around 3 minutes. Again focussing on a slower intro riff and dropping into a breakneck verse and singalong chorus it would be tempting to point to the pop-punk clichés dripping off every song in this EP. However, the band puts such a distinctive stamp on these songs it’s impossible not to appreciate the degree to which they’ve ripped up the pop-punk rulebook. The northern accent sitting atop everything, the introspective lyrics focussing on establishing a feeling rather than chastising an ex, I hate to say it but pop-punk has never seemed so goddamn grown up.
The EP is rounded off by ‘Shade’, another song clocking in around 3 minutes. Again it focusses on a slower intro building to a faster verse and catchy chorus. This is the one weakness to the EP, there is little variation between songs. All clock in the same sorta time, and the virtues I can extol for one are the same I’ll talk about for the next. This is not necessarily a bad thing, on a 4-song EP it’s tempting to get pulled in too many directions and lose any cohesiveness to the sound. That said, about twenty listens in I’m still struggling to tell where one song ends and the next begins. But all things considered, this is a fantastic progression in sound from debut EP Driftwood: the production is better, the songs more distinct and there is a definite sense of BM carving themselves a niche. We can hopefully expect big things from these northern upstarts in the future, and I for one can’t wait. Long may the UKPP revolution continue!