When a band is described with the phrase "imagine for a second the bursting at the seams excitement of a Bomb The Music Industry live show combined with the raw energy of Potshot", you know that's a band I am desperate to check out. This is the way that Tokyo's The Sensations were presented to me when I received an email asking for a CPRW review of their newest album Just Let Me Turn You Up, their first on Paper + Plastick. The Sensations formed in 2008 and combine the best bits of punk, ska, hardcore, soul and 60s pop to create something that sounds so special and unique. I knew this album was going to be a fun one to review before I even heard the first song.
The first song on Just Let Me Turn You Up is titled Dig Your Own Grave and had a video released for the track before the albums release. Dig Your Own Grave is the track that not only serves as an introduction to the album but also to the band, for people such as myself who are only just hearing The Sensations for the first time. It starts out with a frankly delicious guitar riff before moving into a fun pop punk song that will have you busting out some of your best dance moves. When the song reaches its chorus and the whole band start to sing, I know this really is a band for me. Up next is Monkey Dance which begins with a rolling drum beat, a thick bass line and the request to "monkey dance." I imagine that is track is fast becoming a fan favourite live track from The Sensations, with the band running you through how to monkey dance throughout the song. It's simple and it's fun and it makes me smile – what more could you want? Time Flies has a scratchy ska sound that pulled me in instantly and infused me with energy. When a song has you wanting to skank within the first thirty seconds of first hearing it then you know it's a good one. There was an interesting turn of events towards the end of the track where The Sensations switch to a country sound. This was completely unexpected and I loved it. The song then finishes up with a hard and fast punk style that ensures the song finishes with a bang.
The fourth song Keep Your Rough is a bouncy sing-along ska song that is wonderfully infectious. It's one of those songs that is perfect for those chilled out moments when you just want to smile, sing and have the best times with your friends. Whether it's in the car, in the garden, at a show or in your living room, Keep Your Rough is the perfect song to bring people together and just have a brilliant time. Feel Like Yesterday feels as if it has a more serious tone compared to what we've heard so far. Ditching the ska sound, this is a straight punk rock song with the band in a seemingly thoughtful and retrospective mood. Despite the more serious tone, The Sensations still manage to keep it a little light-hearted thanks to some well placed woohoo harmonies. I Don't Believe In You goes full ska with the introduction of some brass. The mood of the album is instantly brought back up on this track that is a pure skankathon. The song will leave you breathless with the potential for some frantic dancing and plenty of big sing-alongs. When songs have this amount of energy it's impossible not to get swept away with the track – this song must be mega when it's played live. The brassy ska continues on I Can't Stand It. Displaying a slower tempo than I Don't Believe In You, it shows that The Sensations can get you dancing without going at 100mph. I quite enjoyed the switch in vocal style during the song with a harsher vocal being used at one point, potentially showcasing an angrier side to the band's sound.
Love Me is one of the stand out songs on Just Let Me Turn You Up. It's a track that feels like the arms-around-a-stranger, singing-along-gleefully song that all great albums have. As soon as I heard the chorus I had a big smile on my face as I skanked shamelessly around my living room. Love Me is one of those wonderful songs that it is almost impossible to stay still to whilst your listening to it. The penultimate song is titled Watch Out and is a short and intense punk rock song that's likely to incite some crazy circle pits. The Sensations singer reverts to the harsher sound that he briefly showcased during I Can't Stand It. The melody has me thinking of one of those big musical numbers where the ending has this big finale that is punctuated with a big exclamation point (and, in my head, lots of jazz hands). Finally we have Journey To The Own Way. The song begins slowly with just some bass and drums accompanying the vocals. As the track progresses and the whole band comes in and it just builds magnificently. I often say that you need a big song to finish the album to help leave a lasting impression. Well The Sensations have nailed that with Journey To The Own Way. It's one of the more straight forward songs on the album which really helps to set it apart from the rest of Just Let Me Turn You Up. Listen to the album and you'll understand what I mean. The song will get a big reaction with its catchy chorus and the insightful nature of the track.
I always knew I was going to really enjoy this album and I really, really did! It's rare to come across, or be sent, something that feels so fresh and original but also doesn't feel novelty. The Sensations had me smiling throughout the album's twenty-six minute run time. They named it perfectly as well as it's one you really do need to turn up loud. Go and check this out now!
Like The Sensations here: https://www.facebook.com/thesensations2008/
This review was written by Colin Clark.