By: Matt Butler

Nopes |  facebook |  bandcamp | 

Released on October 14, 2016 via Magnetic Eye Records

From the almost-as-catchy-as-Durango-95 opener ‘Screens’ to the lengthy and near-anthemic final track ‘Ditches’, which punkifies the ‘Roadrunner’ riff from many a garage classic, this is the best punk record I’ve heard in ages.

It’s solid, wall-to-wall sparkly exuberance from a quartet who appear to delight in not giving a single fuck. Nopes‘ members all played in pop bands in the Bay Area, northern California, so the story goes, but got together with the collective aim of making a racket. Which of course is the right decision.

But the band sell themselves way short in depicting themselves as a noisy band decrying life, bad food, crappy jobs and why-the-hell-should-I-tidy-my-room.

For on hearing that description, you immediately think of The Descendents, the Zero Boys, Angry Samoans, Five Year Plan and a zillion others, who have all flown the flag for the suburban disaffected over the last 35 (!) years or so.

And in doing so they run the risk of falling foul of a pesky know-it-all critic who still sports scars from the time that guy with the studded jacket landed on him at a DFL show (ahem…), stroking his chin and musing over how the youngsters these days sound like this, that or the other.

Not this one.

Yeah, I could go on about how Alex Petralia’s vocals remind me of a muffled pre-Rollins Black Flag and the ragged sound is a little like that of The Oh Sees or Guitar Wolf and the more angular numbers, like ‘I Hate Living in the City’ bring to mind the Angry Samoans. But the thing is these guys can write songs. Really, really good ones. This, the band’s debut full-length, is grittier and dirtier than their fizzy EP Nectar of the Dogs and contains some unadulterated excellence.

The songs transcend the crusty old punk tropes and bring in tangible venom, psychedelic weird-outs and – crucially – slivers of glorious melody sneaking out from beneath the cacophony.

Highlights include the aforementioned opener and closer, ‘Saigon Stow’, with its world-weary ending, the frenetic ‘Cubes’, which has a brief breakdown in which we can draw breath, the violent ‘2.59’, the surprisingly lengthy and complex ‘3.00’ and its superb shout-along chorus, ‘Poetry in Motion’, which follows the spooky instrumental ‘Duran Duran Duran’ with a suitably noisy wake-up call… ah heck, they’re all good.

In fact they’re bloody marvellous.

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