By Henry Raby
Throw away your stud jackets. Throw away your hair spray and hair dye. You don’t need to sew anymore patches or shine anymore boots. All that is superfluous compared to the straight, down-to-earth, no nonsense, no gubbins punk of ROTPM. There are no frills.
Clocking at 19 minutes, these 15 solid tracks will leave you speechless. Barely one song settles in your mind before another collides into your ear, reminiscent of Rancid’s 2000 album or early NoFx. While most punks band run out of stream, or rely on a hit single or crowd-pleasing sing-a-longs (Henry Rollins tells a story of a young Vice Squad playing their single twice at the same gig), this band can keep the pace throughout an entire album (and set if you ever catch them live). The duel attack of vocals from Andy and Matt further add to this onslaught. The album zips past you in a blur of chords, snappy drums and rip-roaring vocals. Put simply: this album is a blur of raw energy.
Though the band’s sound appears to be overtly aggressive in the gritted teeth punk ‘n’ guts style, actually there’s a sliver of humour if you’ll listen carefully. Beer For Breakfast is one such track, which ends with the warning: “Not every day or you’ll die.” ROTPM are connoisseurs of human pyramids, wall of deaths and (uniquely) Human Walls Of Death, summed up as “A community fuelled by music/where we do things out own way” from Surfing Past The Stoat.
Punk has, generally, had very specific points to make. The ‘We are angry, and this is what we are angry about’ form of attack. Media dilution (Red Top Bullshit), prejudice and bigotry (Look at me…I’m a fucking tiger) and the corporate elite (Hobby Horse) are all targets. But as well as attacking, they do a lot of defending their scene and punk world: “Strength in community/we can build collectively” (Another Way).
So, on first listen to this album, you’ll catch snippets of swear words and little phrases (“Problem child of fake democracy” & “Education fights prejudice much better than a fist”), but listening again and again, this blur begins to unravel, lyrics will set into your mind easier and the titles become little clues and riddles to snoop out.
Take a look at the lyrics on their album sleeve. Quotes from entertainers like Groucho Marx and Frank Sinatra underpin every song. Philosopher Bertrand Russell lends a quote for Another Way, whilst modern left-wing celebrity Owen Jones is highlighted for An Aggressive Lecture. Even James Joyce is linked to the seemingly mindless Fuck The Sea.
I have always believed punk music is more intelligent than its critics, and some of its creators, will let on. At first glance, ROTPM appear to be a cracking punk rock band, but dig a little deeper and actually they’re a fairly subtle. The speed forces you to listen careful and pay attention. Nothing is force-fed, slowed down or diluted. Nothing is handed to you on a plate. You want to find something intelligent, well-crafted and dedicated on this album? It’s all there, just put this album on repeat, peruse their liner notes and discover a wealth of aggressive, honest and sharp punk rock.