Liverpudlian pop punk three-piece Pardon Us are a band I’m very excited about this year. The trio, consisting of Morgan on guitar, Alex on bass and Gabby on drums, are set to release their debut album Wait on 13th September with the help of Everything Sucks Music (UK), Johann’s Face Records (USA) and Fixing A Hole (Japan). Here at CPRW, we’ve been lucky enough to have had an early listen of the album and, let’s just say, you’re in for a treat next month!
Wait kicks off with Beyond The Valley Of The Wolves. I want to say that this is a short and fast song but I could say that about almost all of the tracks on this album (the whole thing is only 30 minutes long) – such is the way with Pardon Us. It’s hard to work out the exact lyrics as Morgan has quite a gruff (and Northern) voice but Beyond The Valley Of The Wolves is about growing up, moving out and ‘moving on’ from certain aspects of your life. Very relatable. I also have to give a special mention to the lovely little guitar solo that mimics the chorus melody and plays out the song. Counting Backwards is up next and it opens with more of an indie-style technical riff showcasing a different side to the Pardon Us sound. This style also contrasts nicely with Morgan’s aforementioned gruffness when the vocals come in for the first verse. Counting Backwards is quite an angry sounding song about feeling like you want to be able to make a change in your life, or to the world in general, but always feeling like you’re going backwards. The chorus is a particular highlight as Alex and Gabby harmonise certain lines – ‘“Wanna count for something”, But you’re counting backwards, And in the end you’re left with fucking nout, “Wanna count on something”, But the only thing you’re really sure of, Is your own self-doubt.’
There’s a stop-start feel to the opening melodies of the third track, Brains, which quickly grabs your attention. This is a particularly raw-sounding track that is equal parts angry and passionate. It’s short, repetitive and darn catchy but, if you ask me, that’s the perfect combination for a successful pop punk song. Again, it’s difficult for me to quote the exact lyrics but I’m fairly sure this song is about how Daily Mail readers, and other folks of a similar ilk, are lacking in brains. Except I’m sure Pardon Us put it more eloquently than that. Thankful is the first song to go over 3 minutes in length, at 3:21. The track also features a longer introduction before the vocals come in which allows the trio to showcase their excellent musicianship. With similar themes to the first song on the album, Thankful is about making the most of the life you have and being thankful for not having it so bad. A succinct, catchy chorus of ‘Gotta make the most of it.’ really drives the message home. There are also some really lovely subtle harmonies courtesy of Gabby which compliment Morgan’s more gravelly tones well.
For the next song, It’s A Phil Ochs Kind Of Day, I must admit I had to Google who Phil Ochs is/was. He was an American protest folk singer in the 60s and 70s it turns out, which makes perfect sense for this song. It’s about wondering where the years have gone and why nothing has changed – ‘And we’re trying to keep hope but everything’s so hopeless, Believing in the sunshine, Although this life is cold and grey’. Is it worth the effort to express your political opinions? Will it make any difference? It’s probably something we’ve all often pondered. It’s A Phil Ochs Kind Of Day is a real highlight of the album for sure (and I’ve made a mental note to listen to Phil Ochs myself when I’ve finished writing this review). Half Empty somehow immediately feels louder and faster than everything that came before it. It’s an instant head-nodder of a tune about feeling negative and pessimistic but trying to look on the bright side. The lyrics ‘You’ll soon understand, That the half empty glass in your hand, Is better than no glass at all’ is certainly a nice way to put it. It could always be much worse, sometimes you just need reminding that. There’s also some more really great harmonies and exchanges of vocals from both Alex and Gabby, alongside Morgan, giving the song an inclusive feel.
I said Half Empty was fast but If The Black Shirt Fits is almost skate punk style in the delivery of its introduction – with shreddyness to boot. It does slow a little when the vocals come in however and becomes a perhaps more recognisably Pardon Us sound. This song is about how the word ‘fascist’ isn’t used lightly but it is a suitable word to describe certain folk in this country – ‘Fascist is such an ugly word, But if the black shirt fits’. These people think they’re speaking for us all with their views but they sure as hell are not. The technical and fast paced riffage returns for the outro and the vocals verge on screaming – justified anger I'd say, given the subject matter. Inconvenient Reminder continues the themes of the previous track but in a slower paced yet super catchy way. The song is a response to people who use the phrase ‘Go home’ to mean leave the country. Inconvenient Reminder is about standing up for people that have been through all kinds of hell just to find a safe place to live –‘You’re already home, “So don’t you believe them”’. Who are we to decide who does and doesn’t deserve to be safe? This is the lead single from the album – so you can listen to it right now – and due to its catchy nature, as well as the important message, I can certainly see why this song was chosen.
The penultimate song of Wait comes in the form of Signing Out. An upbeat introduction kicks the song off and has your head nodding once more before things slow down for the first verse. Signing Out is another highly relatable song about losing touch with people as you get older but still cherishing the memories you have with them – ‘Everyone I ever cared about is signing out.’ I really enjoyed the muted melody of the verse which leads into a huge chorus – complete with more of those wonderful harmonies I enjoyed earlier on in the album. Bringing the album to a close is We Aren’t The Champions and what an ending this is! Gone are the political themes and instead we have a song about being in a DIY touring band in the UK. Here Pardon Us admit that they perhaps aren’t the best band in the scene but they have a great time anyway. This is reflected throughout the song, as it’s all so much fun. I love singing along to the chorus and I imagine a live audience would too. ‘And if we don’t break down, Then we’ll see you soon in your shit town, ’Cause we aren’t the champions, And we’re not even runners up, We can’t much play but we’ll do our damnedest anyway…’
I was really looking forward to this album and it did not disappoint one bit. If succinct, catchy and relatable pop punk songs, perhaps with an underlying political message, are your thing then Wait is just the album for you.
This album review was written by Emma Prew.