The Pissups are a punk rock band from Cape Town, South Africa, who I discovered via Bandcamp's discovery page. They had recently released their newest album Long Way Down. I gave it a quick preview and immediately added it to my review list. Describing themselves as "alcoholic pub punk rock", they struck a chord with me (ironic as I'm tee-total) and found myself really excited to get Long Way Down reviewed. Here's what I thought.
Long Way Down begins with the song Flagship. Given the band's description, I was kind of surprised by the overall tone of this opening song. I was expecting a jovial, upbeat happy time but instead Flagship opens in a much darker way. Starting with a rumbling bass part before the guitar and then the vocals kick in, The Pissups waste little time in getting started. I loved the vocals straight away, the band's singer has a raspy, gravelly voice. Not your typical clean and lovely vocal but more the everyman style that is part of what makes punk rock so great. When the chorus hits and some gang vocals begin, this when Flagship really hits its heights. This is an excellent beginning. Following this is One For The Road. The first thing you notice is the change in vocalist. It seems that The Pissups have two vocalists. This second singer has a deeper voice but is still all raspy and gravelly and brilliant. On The Road is about a crazy night travelling round Mexico and South America and some of the interesting scrapes they get into. I'd love to know whether or not they are true. The song hits its peak during the chorus with some wonderful gang vocals. Seriously, if a song has gang vocals I'm sold. On the third song I decided that The Pissups are absolute sweethearts. Not only have they published the lyrics, they mention who sings which parts. Absolute sweethearts and a reviewer's dreamboat. The title of track three is Several Terrible Ideas. Again starting with quite a dark tone with Aidan's (yup, I know their names now) deeper voice taking the bulk of the vocal duties, it's one of the more ferocious songs on the album. When Matt's vocals come in at the end of the song it's almost a full-on scream and sounds tremendous. One Way Bus is the name of the fourth track on Long Way Down. It starts out with a slow paced introduction that will allow for a big sing-a-long before the song begins properly. After this the melody changes slightly and we are treated to what I really expected from The Pissups - a big old drinking song shout-a-long. That fun song where your put your arms round a stranger in the pit and shout yourself hoarse along with the song. Before the song finishes the tempo and intensity is upped but the shouting along continues with a great and catchy finale.
Asylum Fight Night steers away from the pub punk sing-a-long and has a much more serious sound to it. It's about getting into bloody fights whilst being drunk and the terrible things you do whilst in that bad state of mind. The Pissups are superb on this track showing a great amount of restraint in their songwriting. It would have been easy to just explode throughout the song but by remaining so tight it keeps with the tone of the song so well. On The Run is one of my favourite tracks on Long Way Down. The first two verses talk about being at that final point of despair and trying to take your life and somebody else's. Again, it's quite a serious and dark sounding song until we get to the chorus when we get this delightful switch in melody and the whole tone of the song changes. It's now kind of upbeat and you can't help but sing-a-long with Aidan. This change of melody gives the song a big sound and is another superb piece of songwriting from The Pissups. When I first read the title of the album's penultimate song, Get Wrecked, there was only one thought in my mind as to what the track is about. Getting very drunk. My assumption was correct, Get Wrecked is about getting drunk and sharing some interesting times with strangers. Much like most Pissups songs, the song really comes to life when we get to the chorus. The line "Get wrecked! Whoa" is so simple it's great and very easy for anyone listening to want to sing-a-long with the band. When the gang vocals come back in for the final chorus, a huge smile arrived on my face. The opening riff of the final song, Down, really brought the mood of the whole album up. Ironic really as it's really not at upbeat song. I do get quite a kick out of songs like this. Upbeat in sound but extremely down in message. Down is about struggling with your mental health problems and feeling like you couldn't get any lower. The way it's written however makes it a very cathartic song, with the chorus in particular being excellent for shouting along with and releasing any and all of your feelings.
I absolutely loved Long Way Down from the beginning to the end. It's eight fantastic songs of fantastic sing-a-long punk rock. Given the band's name and how they describe themselves I was definitely expecting more drinking songs but was pleasantly surprised by the more serious topics on the release. I spend hours on Bandcamp searching for brilliant new bands from all other the world (punk rock doesn't just exist in the USA, Europe and Australia you know - it's everywhere!) and finding a band as good as The Pissup makes it time very well spent!
Stream and download Long Way Down here: https://thepissups.bandcamp.com/album/long-way-down
Like The Pissups here: https://www.facebook.com/thepissups/
This review was written by Colin Clark.