Do punks ever grow up? Maybe, but it doesn’t mean they become lame-oes. Los Angeles snotties Bang Sugar Bang are back with their second album and it’s a welcome growth from their slightly too clever debut.
BSB is a band that has built their home on hooks. Big ones. Even the songs on this album that don’t make sense have you singing along. Drawing from some of the same LA punk staples as their last effort, BSB also dips further into the well and comes back with a sleeve soaked in great influences.
Despite the title, “Punk Beat” (mp3) actually borrows more from the New York New Wave scene that followed on the heels of the original punk movement with a decidedly dancey beat and early Blondie delivery. We’ve all heard the stories of Richard Hell and Debbie Harry hanging out—this is what it must have sounded like.
It’s always interesting to hear a song develop over time. As it happens, “The Machine Gun Song” (mp3) has been in vocalist/guitarist Matt Southwell’s bag for over ten years. He’s finally nailed a recording that captures both the punk/pop exhuberance and the snide attitude the song has always had. This is a song that should be on every bitter break-up mix CD.
BSB’s vocalist Cooper’s style is most often compared to Exene Cervenka, but “Kill the Radio” (mp3) has our heroine tapping her inner Chrissy Hynde with her best vocal performance on the album. The expansion of influences and musicality is also evident on “Alright,” the album’s most musically interesting track showing off a bit of spunk from drummer Pawley Filth.
While there are some clichéd spots here and there (the scenester bashing “Tony” or the punk rock roll call of “Sunday Night”), they’re delivered with such energy and undeniable hooks that you soon forgive any faults.
[Full disclosure: Derek Phillips is friends with lead guitarist Matt Southwell and in fact played with him years ago in the amazing Vantrells. Still think it’s inappropriate to review a friend’s band? Tough shit.]
MP3 samples available from CD Baby.