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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Punk rock narrative

Here's a rough translation of the album review by Andrea Sangiovanni at the Italian BeatBear website:

Artist: The Distractions

Album: The End Of The Pier

Label: Occultation Recordings

Year: 2012

This is a record which opens with typical rock chords and a time-worn voice yelling “I Don’t Have Time” and maybe that’s true, given that it’s been 30 years since Nobody’s Perfect.  They are The Distractions and they’re back two generations later with a new record: both music itself and the world may have changed in the meantime, but what about them?

A quick biographical scan tells us that the group are more British than tea and that they got started back in school in the environment of the 1980s.  Actually in 1975 Mike Finney (vocals), together with Steve Perrin (guitar) formed a band which only gelled into a stable line-up in 1977, as a punk group with strong sixties influences.  With their album Nobody’s Perfect they shared the stage with Buzzcocks and Joy Division without ever being overshadowed, and found their own place in the sun.

30 years after The Distractions line-up split they’ve reformed and they’re back with a new album and, perhaps even more so because of the long wait there’s a real curiosity about The End Of The Pier, an album whose mere release will’ve caused palpitations in the hearts of punks young and old.  Mature rock with a strong British accent forms the backbone of the album, and a split opens up between the difference in styles, with more upbeat tracks and ballads.  Because of the words and the melodies it’s impossible not to feel a hint of nostalgia; “Too Late To Change”, for instance, is a perfect mixture of the record’s styles in that it’s basically a rock ballad.

There’s an effective balance between happy-go-lucky melodies such as “100 Times”, aggressive numbers like “Boots” (with lyrics about how the world has changed) and the aforementioned ballads which leave a romantic, melancholic aftertaste, such as “Wise”.  It might seem as though all the tracks are heading in the same direction but actually that’s not the case, and there’s a full range of emotions to be detected in the subtle undercurrent.

The End Of The Pier is a narrative which needs to be read between the lines, there’s no point making comparisons with the previous album, given the amount of time that’s elapsed between them, but this is a punk rock narrative which describes the present to us with a voice from the past.

(c) Andrea Sangiovanni

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