I can usually spot a ‘non-English’ (or Irish) punk band from about 5000 metres, even without my glasses on: the guitar is tame, the lyrics are self-obsessed and annoying and usually based on pocket money issues. The band always sounds like American ‘heavy rock’ and are only identifiably punk because of their ‘crazy’ green hair. Nevertheless, everybody invariably raves on about how great they are and the only noticeable effect on my life is I feel even more lonely than ever. *Sigh*.
But hey, enough of my pocket money issues because here is a band I really can’t complain about. The Pariahs are so good I didn’t even know they weren’t English (or Irish) and although they aren’t American they are Canadian – but maybe that’s why they are so good. What we have here is a varied and colourful approach to music making rather than the usual flunkyish and ill-fitting attendance on the concept of ‘punk’.
It’s a kind of modern retro; the Ramones meets internet consciousness, a subtler form of punk that seems to benefit from a musically and verbally more expansive outlook that may even characterise the differences between a narrow New Yorker’s self idolatry and the more Canadian sense of overwhelming surroundings.
Lyrically they are humorous and not self conscious, meditating on the short-lived-ness of lead singers and the nature of “sad songs” without being tedious or depressing. The lyrics are not as easy to hear as I would wish, but what I can make out draws me in: the signs seem to point towards both the insignificance and the importance of the personal perspective, with the result that a rich sense of irony develops.
Here those who are weary of spirit will indeed find power guitar playing, with all the usual distortion and a clashing of drums. You will also receive in large amounts a great synthesis of catchy, thrashed out melodies, and heavy metal driving bass rhythms which carry you along on a wave of energy with no sense of loss or compromise.
It’s true, as their record label says, that they have AC/DC scrawled on their souls, but think humour and confidence rather than easy listening and lack of edge; what they have in common are the good bits for sure. Lyrically and vocally they are streets ahead, the singing style at times so beautifully punctuated and taut that Cerys Matthews (Catatonia) springs to mind.