It has been twenty years since Paris hailing Union Jack first stomped around with their anger fuelled, ska infested punk ‘n’ roll, a celebration marked by the release of a brand new slab of infectious aggression. Supersonic is the trio’s seventh full-length, a stonking riot driven by the band’s familiar yet individual sound which simply hits the spot dead centre.
Across six albums and a host of EPs, Union Jack have honed their sound into one intrusively virulent proposal, a strain of punk rock with catchiness as potent as its irritability at the world. Live it has ignited hordes of fans, earning the band a big reputation across their homeland, into Europe, and Canada while sharing stages with the likes of The Damned, DOA, UK Subs, Leftöver Crack, Swingin Utters, Subhumans, The Aggrolites, The Movement, Inner Terrestrials and many more. Even so, they still may be an unknown quality to a great many, something that Supersonic should amend.
Recorded at Sofa Studio with RomTomCat, mixed and mastered by Mike Major ( At the Drive-in, Sparta, Coheed And Cambria, Gone is Gone), and with additional contributions on certain songs by Thomas Birnbacher (upright bass/organ), Phillipe Cattafesta (piano/organ), and Joe Robinne (organ), Supersonic grabs ears from its first breath. Cynical Sound Club starts things stomping, a brief introduction urgently loaded with wicked hooks and punchy rhythms as the band gathers all its wiles ready for next up Oh Boogie. The second track bounces around with attitude and aggressive energy tempered by the warm touch of an organ. The mischievous bassline is irresistible, riffs spice for the ears while the twin vocal attack of guitarist Tom Marchal and bassist/pianist Rude Ben are intrusive ringleaders in the magnificent raw and wild melody hooked romp.
Wordaholic has an even rawer air to its character and presence, Antoine Sirven Gabiache’s swinging beats leading the way as vocals and grooves leave lingering imprints on the senses and psyche. Like a mix of Swingin’ Utters and Faintest Idea, the song brawls and flirts with the listener, showing recognisable essences while uncaging its own antagonistic delights before Blackout unveils choppy riffs and slapping beats as again the excellent unity between the band’s contrasting vocals bring their own magnetic clamour to the catchy ire pumped mix. Both tracks use the body like a puppeteer, resistance to their swinging rhythms and wicked hooks pointless though each is over shadowed a touch by the punk rock roar of Boomerang. Stalking ears with a predacious bassline, enslaving them with the tangiest hooks as vocals entangle participation in their physical and emotional affray, the track is glorious; a Billy Talent like spicing added pleasure.
Next up Purple Pride offers a melodic core not too far removed from its predecessor’s and indeed the track lacks the same incendiary spark but still has pleasure and appetite greedy with its raw punk ‘n’ roll belligerence while the bubbly but sonically raw assault of Human Zoo straight, also just missing out on the heights of earlier songs, is still nothing less than fiercely enjoyable with its unpredictable nuances and twists.
Bitter Taste shows a calmer nature as keys and melodies swing with a summery energy though still Union Jack drive it with an instinctive aggression which commands attention. Another song which easily has feet and hips in tandem and the spirit railing against the world; it is one fun and impressive warm up for the album’s best track. Don’t Look Back swiftly steals favourite spot, laying the seeds with its psychobilly nurtured bass slaps and sealing the deal with its Tiger Army like groove. From there the band’s punk heart drives the thrills; ska licks and senses rapping beats as well as elements reminding of bands like The Vox Dolomites and The Peacocks treats in the track’s heady swing.
Through the raucously catchy skirmish of Summer Waves, a song with a Buzzcocks like hook to lick lips over, and the ska infested rock ‘n’ roll of The Globe, the captivating aural roughhousing only sparks new waves of pleasure. The underlying variety in the album’s sound is also further highlighted though You and I returns to the more expected Union Jack musical ruckus with no complaints offered. It still springs a smart web of melodies and hooks though to stand apart with a Biting Elbows like rock/punk invention adding extra spice to its scrap.
It is an essence which also infests the excellent Bones, a coincidental similarity to the just mentioned Russian band no bad thing as the song twists and turns with quarrelsome anthemic chest beating before slipping away for Hate To Say Goodbye to close things off, the slither of music a reprise to that first welcome by Supersonic.
The album is a real joy deserving the attention of all those with an appetite for ska punk and punk rock in any guise.
Supersonic is released February 1st on Beer Records in collaboration with Guerilla Asso, Old Town Bicyclette, and Riot Ska Records for the UK, and through https://unionjack.bandcamp.com/
Pete RingMaster 01/02/2017
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