London band Spineless Yes Men are an interesting beast. This 3-track EP is short – very short – but long on effort and slathered in likeable charm. The band are tough to define. Not really punk rock nor indie nor pop, they traverse a substantial canyon between the three, slapping melodies about with abandon. At times like The Hoosiers or Scouting For Girls (wait, give them a chance), they also summon up the best sunny punk of The Bouncing Souls or Social Distortion, or like their compatriots Graveltrap or Not Katies. But this sounds disarmingly non-American. That’s not to say SYM are playing it all wrong. It’s still pretty rare to hear a UK band who pitch themselves as pop-punk and don’t suffer from the accidental So-Cal accent. Tommy Towers is an adept frontman, clever at harnessing the band’s traction energy and smartly keeping crunchy verses punchy and tense.
This takes the best of the early 2000s and squeezes in a load of pop. ‘Dickens Would Have Made You A Gentleman’ is a bit of a [Spunge] throwback. Catchy and well-paced, it’s a great example of what this band can do. ‘Raindrop Shadows’, though, shows the limitations of their sound. Occasionally, chorus lines can feel flat, rushed or under-thought. The lead guitar can also be heavy and clumsy, dashing in and out of vocal lines, a bit like ruining your chips by shaking too much ketchup on them. And there is not a great deal here that is really new. The poppier end of pop-punk has been all but sewn up by our friends from across the Atlantic who do it with more cheese and less shame. But where this band have real potential is in harnessing their indie touches. This record hints at something a little more Maccabees than MxPx, more Libertines than Lagwagon, and here they might find success in digging up some new ground. Promising.
This is a review for New Reviews, also available here.