There is something about ska punk that is always infectious to some degree no matter the ability of the band bringing its enthused energy into view. With bands like Belgian ska punks Overweight this infection borders on contagion, their catchy insatiable sounds a festival for the senses. December 5th sees the release of their new EP Chapter 11 to further please and delight with five songs that grab hold and unleash aural joy on the ear.
Overweight began in 2001 in Vilvoorde when school friends started up a punk band, this soon evolved into ska punk as a brass section was added. Early demo ‘What We Call Paradise’ started the rise of attention to be solidly reinforced by the 2008 demo ‘Back To Life With A Hangover’. The following year saw their debut album ‘The World For Sale’ really fuel a growing appeal and eagerness for the band from further afield. Impressive shows and a French and UK tour raised their stock further and despite departure of a founder member in 2010, Overweight regrouped to return with the new line-up of Gert Thielemans (vocals and trombone), Kevin Boonen (guitar and backing vocals), Jurgen Ral (trumpet and backing vocals), Julien Daiche (drums), and Willem Merck (bass), and an EP to take them even deeper into willing and enthusiastic demanding ears.
It is fair to say that diversity amongst ska punks bands is not the widest, the core sound in some ways quite limiting and it is the quality of songwriting and musicianship that sets bands apart something Overweight are impressively strong on. References have been made to the band sounding like Less Than Jake and one can understand that but on the EP’s evidence the quintet sit firmly alongside the likes of Mad Caddies, Reel Big Fish and [Spunge]. They do add some harder punk rock sounds too that remind of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and in some ways Rocket From The Crypt to produce music that appeals loaded with substance.
The EP opens with probably the most obvious and straight forward song in ‘Turbo’. Energetic and bouncy with choppy guitars, group harmonies, and fluid brass sounds the song delivers with direct and eager intent even if without producing any real surprises. It is fun and comes with a determination to not leave until toes are tapping along, making a great start to Chapter 11.
‘Guantanamo’ leaps in next with equal boisterous energy and mischief. A great bassline supports the melodic dance, purposeful lyrics, and resourceful brass sounds making the track irresistible. Things really step up though when ‘Generation?’ moves in to show its wanton wares. The first two songs are great fun but from this point right through to the end the levels are pushed up a notch or two. The third song comes with a punkier edge and attitude without losing the infectious and mesmeric melodic funky grooves. A word like catchy really does not do it justice; its hypnotic charm staying with the listener long after it passes the musical torch onto the next track.
It that was hypnotic then the pulse and contagious hooks of ‘I Want It You Got It’ are certified aural addiction. The song is so infectious that at the song plays whilst writing this section the keyboard has danced as much as the eager limbs below its stand. Well crafted and realised this is pop music of the highest order, something the best ska punk can produce effortlessly it seems.
The punk fused epidemic that is ‘No More’ completes the release bringing forth more appetising melodic hooks, warm brass sounds and an unlimited supply of not to be denied infections. There is nothing but good things that can be said about this song, in fact every song that makes up Chapter 11.
The EP admittedly is not breaking down boundaries for ska punk but it is hard to think of many that do break out from the ‘traditional’ sound, but there are going to be even fewer as satisfying and enjoyable as Chapter 11 from Overweight.