It is fair to say that since returning from an extended hiatus, UK punks Yorkshire Rats have blossomed into one persistently rousing and creatively tenacious proposition. It is not as if their early years were barren from success and plaudits let alone ear exciting sounds but as their new self-titled EP shows, maturity and a new creative drive has seen them become one of the essential melodic punk encounters on the British if not global scene.
Formed in Pontefract by vocalist/guitarist Don Mercy (ex-Abrasive Wheels, ex-Billy No Mates) in 2004, Yorkshire Rats released a well received 7” and EP in their two years capped by supporting Rancid in 2006. Then the band took that hiatus before returning around a decade after first stepping forward and subsequently released their swiftly acclaimed debut album, Sea of Souls in 2015 via Indelirium Records. It was a release embracing the band’s earlier sound whilst welcoming a broader punk canvas and that new energy, all subsequently pushed again by the Trouble City EP last year and now their new four track offering.
Again the new release sees the band drawing on the seeds of punk rock across the decades and from both sides of the North Atlantic, infusing all into their own individual hook strapped, melody shaped songs. The EP opens up with the irresistible Alone Together, a track “all about the strains of relationships whether that be romantic or political.” It opens up with a delicious old school hook, raw bait surely nurtured from a Ramones/Stiff Little Fingers like inspiration. Soon rhythms are jabbing at the persistent lure, in turn the potent vocals of Mercy flirting with ears and matching the infectious strength of the sounds around him. The melodic boisterousness and craft of lead guitarist Matt Lee only adds richer colour to a song already gripping the imagination and body with its chopping riffs and rousing rhythms.
The following Where Do I Sign? brings a more US styled stroll to ears; its lively body and melodic enterprise akin to Green Day though soon developing its own unique character as the firm beats of drummer Chris Furness and the dark swing of Josh Clarke’s bass unite with the fiery veins infused by Lee. Though slightly more restrained in energy compared to its predecessor it is an equal in catchiness and uncaging lusty hooks as too next up No Way Out. There is more of a Social Distortion spicing to the third track, it again a bold and flirtatious proposal with an addictive chorus impossible to resist. With a bassline to drool over and an enslaving sing-a-long vocal temptation further in, the song hits the spot dead centre.
Final track, Better Days Will Come, is an energetic croon with a Joe Jackson like riff and Elvis Costello scented melodic suggestiveness, all wrapped up in Yorkshire Rats creative theatre. It is a fine end to an outstanding release with Mercy a vocal magnet even as hooks and melodies intensify their weight and temptation.
The EP is the most rounded and relentlessly contagious offering from Yorkshire Rats yet, its songs relishing the inevitable increase in as suggested songwriting maturity and individual let alone united craft. A must have for melodic punk fans? We think so!
The Yorkshire Rats EP is out now on Northern Ruff Records @ http://yorkshirerats.com/store/ and other online stores.
Pete RingMaster 21/06/2017
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