Stapler by NopesRelease date: July 27, 2018
Label: Magnetic Eye Records
As euphoric as winning an Olympic gold medal, finding a cure for a disease or saving the environment from disaster may be, most of us have to be content with smaller triumphs. Those tiny yet important achievements – things like getting out of the house, putting on your T-shirt the right way, refraining from calling your boss a lazy, soap-faced, overbearing, patronising dickhead… should be celebrated as well. Hey, they’re all some of us have got. Why not toast the little things?
And the Nopes‘ new album Stapler is an ideal soundtrack to do this; it is one to raise your fist in the air to and yell: “Fuck yeah – I did make it through another day without injuring myself or anyone else!”
It is ragged, world-weary and loud. It is infused with the apathy born of late nights, bad food, alcohol and ringing ears. But amid the distortion and despondency, it also contains some of the catchiest major-chord punk tunes you are ever likely to hear.
Those who have heard their previous album, Never Heard of It will not be surprised to hear this. It is a fantastic piece of work, for those of us who thrive on feedback and pissed-offedness. But in this album, which at 19 songs gives you value for money, if nothing else, the band have clearly progressed – and allow themselves to stretch into places they had never ventured.
At the beginning, they pick up from where they left off in 2017’s seven-inch EP Fun Limbo, with ‘Lean’. It is garage punk in its finest and purest form, like playing a Sonics record with a piece of barbed wire instead of a needle. And things career along in a similar fashion for much of the album, with highlights including the swaggering ‘Throwing Rocks’, the jaunty ‘A Maze’, the Descendents-y ‘Restless’ and the angry ‘You’ve Got a Frenemy’.
There are downright frantic songs as well such as ‘Checkpoint’ and ‘Take One’ – the latter of which sounds like free jazz as much as rock ‘n’ roll, as well as a few interludes on the angular, electronic side of things (which could be a hangover from Stunted, the solo album released earlier in 2018 by vocalist Alex Petralia).
But the thing that sets this album apart from their previous ones is the appearance of longer, more thoughtful – and dare we say epic – songs. We’re not talking anything on the proportion of ‘Shine on You Crazy Diamond’ here, don’t worry – think Five Year Plan’s gloriously fatalistic tune ‘Die Young’ and you will be in the same area of epicness as this album. ‘Grinning’ for instance, is almost four minutes long, with a morose, nearly-clean guitar juxtaposed with a bombastic and extremely loud chorus.
And ‘Glaze’, which closes the album, channels Angus Young through Iggy Pop at his most nihilistic – producing a song which seems perfectly made to raise a glass to the day’s triumphs. Even if those triumphs don’t stretch any further than making a decent cup of coffee and managing not to fall over.