Monday, 20 February 2017

Album Review: Blame Culture by Riskee and the Ridicule

Riskee and the Ridicule are a four piece grime punk band from Kent. “Grime punk?” You ask. What on earth is grime punk!? Grime punk is what you get when a grime MC links up with a punk band and creates one of the most energetic and unique sounds you'll hear all year. At the beginning of the year the band released a brand new album named Blame Culture.

The album starts out with the track Nobody Likes Us. I wonder if this was a light hearted jab towards the punk police who might argue that Riskee and the Ridicule don't fit in with the more traditional punk rock music. I'd argue that, immediately, Riskee and the Ridicule are one of the most punk bands I've heard in a long time - doing things completely their own way. Musically it's charged with energy that will get you dancing from the outset, before the chorus hits and you'll be singing defiantly with the band. The second song is named Banger and that's exactly what it is. It's a party song that's certainly going to be a live favourite. You can imagine a packed basement, dripping in sweat going wild for this song. Banger is about being happy with what you have, knowing that eventually you'll have more. I liked the use of a second, hoarser vocal, adding a bit of anger to the track. On my first listen through of Blame Culture, the third track Hipster was probably one of my favourites. It's such fun! On my first listen I thought Hipster was just about having a girlfriend who is cooler than you but as you listen more carefully you discover it's about someone's struggles to keep their girl happy and the fear that she'll leave you for someone she perceives to be cooler than you.

The fourth song, Drown, is a song that really showcases vocalist Scott Picking's voice - whether spitting down some sick bars (I think that's what the kids call it) or singing with some fantastic melody and harmony, he really impresses. I was also fairly surprised by the fact that he could sing as well as rap. The guitars on the track are fantastic. When Drown first began I was reminded of Swedish skate punk legends Millencolin - that's always a great thing. Drown finishes with a nice piece of spoken word poetry that really grabbed my attention as it was not something I was expecting after such a high octane track. This really displays Scott's incredible skill as a lyricist. Up next is the song Molotov Cocktails. It starts out slowly, in an almost sad and mournful manner. As the introduction progresses the song slowly grows with Scott again switching between rapping and singing. His raps in particular really give the song a massive sense of building. Although I did expect the pay off at the end to be bigger it was still a great song. It's a song with a great crossover appeal to it. The same can be said with the following song, Running On Air. Despite being released in January I see this song as a big pop punk song summer anthem. It's something a big festival crowd could sing-a-long to whilst having a great big boogie. Of course there are some high tempo verses that do a great job getting you back to the chorus for the next big sing-a-long. It's great to hear that Riskee and the Ridicule aren't one trick ponies. Party sees some brass, courtesy of Ghouls’ Russell Spencer and Ben Marion, join the fray. The brass, as well as a pounding drumbeat, give the illusion of marching which works as this is an inspirational song about making the best of things and making sure you live your life to the fullest. With another chorus that will get you singing with the band instantly, this will be another big live favourite. At the end of Party comes another great piece of poetry before we get to the eighth song Elmley To Holloway. Here we have some more summer pop punk fun. It didn't get me quite like Running On Air did but it's still a highly enjoyable song.

Backwords is another surprising track. Backwords is an acoustic track. I really wasn't expecting to find an acoustic song on Blame Culture! Of course the jumping between song and rap is there and that adds a bit of energy but without the full band it did seem as if the song was lacking something. However, full credit for trying to do something different on the album. Villain sees the full band come back - guitarist Jimbo Algony, bassist Dave Thomas and drummer Matt Verrell really do a fantastic job on this album and it was really noticeable when they weren't present. Scott will undoubtedly take a lot of the limelight for the band but he is joined by three incredible musicians. Villains is a great song with a strong social commentary throughout. After another great poem we have the penultimate track, Daddy's Boots. This was another big favourite on my first listen of Blame Culture. It's a bit of a working class anthem about working hard to get what you want and being strong no matter what happens. There is also some more social commentary about the divide between the classes. This is quite a hard hitting track and you can feel the band's anger oozing out of track. We'll Never Belong is the name of the final track on Blame Culture. Like the opening track, Nobody Likes Us, it's about not fitting in and not caring about it. Where Nobody Likes Us felt more angry about the situation We'll Never Belong is about being proud to be different. This is much more upbeat and is another huge anthem. Most bands struggle to write one anthem per album, I've lost count of the amount on Blame Culture. What a great pop pun tune. It's fun, thoughtful and so uplifting.

I'll be the first to admit that when I was presented with the opportunity to review a grime punk album I was quite sceptical and a little hesitant. I was pretty sure that I wouldn't like it and wasn't really sure what I could write about it. All of my scepticism and hesitancy quickly vanished after hearing the first verse and chorus and I now will proudly say I love Riskee and the Ridicule and thought Blame Culture was an absolutely cracking album. I now really want to see them live - I imagine it's a hell of a lot of fun!

Stream and download Blame Culture here:

Like Riskee and the Ridicule here:

This review was written by Colin.