Friday, 22 August 2014

Album Review: Smithereens by Bottler

Bottler are a four piece punk rock band based around London. Formed from other bands they came together in 2013 and released the debut EP Smithereens earlier this year on Disconnect Disconnect Records.

Smithereens opens up with the excellent Ex-Members. Starting things off slowly before erupting into a song about being in old bands that you hadn’t heard of and not giving up on playing music that they love. The chorus is really catchy and the lines “we are the ex-members of the bands you never knew” will grab you instantly and is very relatable in the punk scene. I imagine a good portion of the crowd will also have been in bands at some stage in their lives. I’m amazed my old band Thirty Six Crazy Mega Death Punches never took off.

Ex-Members is followed by Ready, Willing, Able. Ready, Willing, Able musically is quite a frantic sounding song but then lead singer Dave’s vocals come across as being very controlled. It’s a political song about relying too much on America to help us. Bottler issue somewhat of a battle cry during a break down stating “they might get pieces but they’ll never take us all.”

Track three is called Mastermind and is a fun song about breaking the law. It starts off with telling a story about breaking a window with a brick and then quickly escalates to killing someone. I loved the use of the harmonica during the song, a reference to prison time. I also enjoyed the Oi! nature of Mastermind, gives the song a new sing-along element.

Track four is title track Smithereens. The first thing you notice on the song is the bass line; it reminds me of some of the great Matt Freeman from Rancids work. This song is about working somewhere for a long time and being let go. In a tongue in cheek manor Bottler suggest “give up your dreams, before they get smashed to smithereens.” Probably the strongest song on the release on the EP, it’s got everything I like in a song – great and relatable lyrics, catchy chorus, great instrumentation and you can imagine how good it must be live without seeing it live (yet).

The final song on Smithereens is called No Questions Please. This is a song questioning organised religion, something must punk bands do at some point. The lyrics are covered in sarcasm, talking about confession “wipe the slate cream, you’re a perfect human being,” and the thought that if you don’t believe in a god “you are either with us or you are hell bound by belief.” This is another song I imagine is well received live and will garner some fist in the air action.

Smithereens shows a band with a great amount of promise. Bottler are clearly a band with a knack of writing smart, interesting and unique songs. I’m very interested to hear what they do next.

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