Releases which have us throwing feet, hips, and bodies around in an uninhibited frenzy are just as boisterously devoured here as those provoking thoughts and imagination into the same eager exploits. Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard, the new album from UK outfit Popes Of Chillitown is one such example, an encounter which stirs up every aspect of the human spirit across thirteen slices of what for the moment we will simply call ska punk but is so much more. The band and release swiftly had the body bouncing, energies uncaged, and mind feeding off its insightful social and personal lyrical intimation. It is one of those unforgettable, deviously manipulative propositions which will surely set Popes Of Chillitown on the way to being a household name far beyond the ska and punk scene.
From London, Popes Of Chillitown has already bred and nurtured a fine reputation across two albums and a live presence which has had venues and bodies bouncing, as the album now, with lustful participation. 2013 saw the release of their pledge-funded debut album A Word To The Wise, a keenly embraced encounter eclipsed by its even more eagerly received successor To The Moon two years later. Since that first offering, the sextet has further lit up the live scene, from the Capital bursting across the UK and into Europe sharing stages with the likes of Reel Big Fish, The Selecter, The Skints, Imperial Leisure, [Spunge], Mouthwash, The Snare and many more along the way.
As Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard swiftly reveals, the band’s sound has an irresistibility which borders on the viral. It is a fusion of upbeat ska, punk, 2-tone, dub, drum & bass, reggae, indie with plenty more flavoursome spices working away in the mix; a rousing incitement which never flirts with the predictable and across the new album, easily the band’s finest moment yet, persistently has body, imagination, and spirit bounding.
Straight away as intrigue coaxes ears there is a sense of drama and mischief at play which swiftly sparks opener Prang into life, the track springing along with wilful exuberance. The guitar of Tom Penn winds around ears from an already persuasive hook spraying stroll while the rhythmic prowess of bassist Arvin Bancil and drummer Jack Ashley gets under the skin in no time. Matt Conner’s rousing vocals are just as effective, listener participation we found inevitable and can keen testify to. The track is superb, its twist into discord and off kilter imagination icing on the stomp.
The flames of trombonist Ieuan Williams and saxophonist Jon Pryce open up the following Get Off/Get On, lighting the way to another persuasive saunter ridden by the increasingly captivating vocals of Conner. There is a touch of [Spunge] meets King Prawn to the track, a tasty flavouring quickly ignited by the band’s own raucously individual enterprise.
Fair to say Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard already had its temptation racing through our veins in two songs but raised the temperature of its persuasion even more with next up Vexed. Cored by a hook which had ears and appetite dangling like a fish on a rod as well as a glorious teasing yet taunting grumble of a bassline, the track instantly took the album’s seductive clamour to another level. Brewing an addictive roar something akin to The Mighty Mighty Bosstones meets Capdown with the rawer edge of The Hostiles, the track simply and quickly had us enslaved and adding our less able attributes.
The equally outstanding No Manners In Ireland is next, the song a web of twists and turns littered with creative hooks and melodic lures which seduce like sonic sirens. Guitars and vocals dance on the swagger of the rhythms, their dark lined joy seared with the soulful flames of brass as the song evolves in form and imagination across four minutes plus of pure magnetism. Its glory is matched by that of the far briefer but just as riveting Graveyard. A dub infested mix of Skindred and again King Prawn, the slither of a track just ignited the senses before Upside Down got the body rocking and rolling with its almost salacious bounce and antics.
Across the fiery ska fuelled punk ‘n’ roll of The Last Elephant and the swinging holler of Mr. Piotr, physical reaction is inescapable as thoughts invest in more of the band’s lyrical inference, both tracks cauldrons of drama and physical manipulation so easy to devour while the likes of What A Guy and Inner Peace add yet more variety and adventure to the album’s beauty. The first erupts from a haunting melancholic sigh into another inescapable to resist canter, voice and hips soon embroiled in its creative romp before its companion smoulders seductively on the senses with its less boisterous but just as tenacious reflection. From guitars to rhythms, brass to voice, the song serenades and seduces; volatility in its heart adding greater depth to its inventive cry and increasingly rising temperature and intensity.
Take Control is punk rock blessed with the ear clipping tenacity of ska; a rousing trespass of an incitement under a sweltering climate of suggestion cast by sax and trombone. Unsurprisingly again indulgence in its swing is unavoidable, a lack of discipline thankfully the whole of Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard exploits.
The album closes up with firstly the melodically shimmering Lego Prisoners, a track resembling what you might imagine emerging from the essences of Ruts DC, The Skints, and a calm Random Hand being locked in together, and lastly Culpa and its reggae brewed saunter where grooves and beats overwhelm restraints even before voice and hooks sink their temptation into ears.
It all makes for one deliciously riveting and rousing adventure going by the name of Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard. Popes Of Chillitown has been firing up the ska and punk scene pretty much from their first days but are now ready to be spoken in the same breath as those bands which immediately come to mind as inspirations to the across the array of styles the Londoners skilfully embrace and employ in their own adventure. After Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard they might just be the first name to lips.
Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard is out now on 12inch vinyl, CD and Digital Download @ https://popesofchillitown.bandcamp.com/album/work-hard-play-hard-see-you-in-the-graveyard
Upcoming Popes Of Chillitown tour dates:
MAY 27 – BOURNEMOUTH Cursus Festival
JUN 02 – NOTTINGHAM The Maze
JUN 09 – CHEPSTOW Balter Festival
AUG 04 – BLACKPOOL Rebellion Festival
AUG 09 – NEWCASTLE Trillians*
AUG 10 – GLASGOW Audio*
AUG 11 – LONDON Underworld*
AUG 12 – WINCHESTER Boomtown Fair
Pete RingMaster 18/05/2018
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright