Punk is a tricky genre. Designed and belonging in the live forum, there can be little point in releasing it on record. It’s not there to be listened to. It’s there to be danced to by young kids who need an outlet. So some punk bands stick to constant touring, while others, perhaps with a more creative bent, want the fruits of their songwriting labour in the public domain.
Lovvers was formed in 2006 in Nottingham by four lads from around the country. Last year they released seven-track EP Think. It wasn’t very good. But it showcased their intent, and they’re a band who want to write songs that can be both listened to and pogoed to. With this release of their debut album proper, they seem to have concentrated on producing stronger melodies and have shifted things up a gear. When comparing the two releases side-by-side, there’s a noticeable improvement.
Only Human Hair has survived from Think, and while it stood out as the best song on the EP, it’s just one of many good tracks here. Creepy Crawl and Four Count tread similar paths with simple melodies and familiar riffs, with the band demonstrating that they’re not just going for noisy/riotous/raucous.
There are signs of traditional punk roots. The songs are generally short and spiky and the vocals are impossible to decipher. They pack a punch on Axtxixtxtxuxdxe and 100 Flowers, both of which have the potential to be superb live.
But Lovvers also prove that they can strip away the noise and come up with the goods. Golden Bars Blue is a stunning ballad that breaks things up at the halfway point of the album. Free of percussion, and with just their trademark distorted vocals and some sweet guitars, it’s a highpoint. Later on, interlude D. Boon also provides a shift in gear as its swinging funky instrumentalism provides a short tribute to the late lead singer of Californian band Minuteman.
These are well-crafted songs, the main sticking point of which is that too many have similar pace and feel which means that not enough of the tracks stand out on their own merits. In a way it’s the new fully-formed songs that let them down. As a garage band they’re not going to write hooks as strong as, say, The Strokes do. So perhaps it was better when they concentrated on the pure punk ethic of noise and riot, rather than trying to give the casual listener something to enjoy. OCD Go Go Go Girls seems to have found a middle path where the songs aren’t quite strong enough and the noise isn’t quite noisy enough.
Nonetheless, their ambition is encouraging and they’ll undoubtedly put on a good show. While it hasn’t got them to their destination, this album is a definite step in the right direction.