Straight in, no messing around. The first track (The Pact) on Puppet Rebellion’s debut album, ‘Chemical Friends,’ hits the ears with anthemic chants coaxed by strong standardised lyrics and fast-paced power-pop chords, Henry Rogers’ adrenaline-charged drums further entice the desire to engage.
Slave is wonderfully playful with a good vocal hook, the chorus sounds like a FIFA soundtrack that stays in your head whilst you pick which Aston Villa kit your players should wear. I’m getting into it but the first track didn’t set me up like a first track should. Hey Now is the third in line, quick off the mark, a strong and fast-moving song – there’s a theme here. The track makes the head bob, another solidly structured pop/rock song by another pub band.
Cupboards Painted Red‘s gorgeous intro guitars, from David Wimbush and Craig Gibson, is the standout so far; lyrically, the stakes are raised too, the song flows nicely from start to finish and delivers in dynamic and harmonic variation. The riff is the main thing that stays with me and just makes you feel good, well done. I especially like the strings added in the last pre-chorus and chorus, it adds a wonderful warmth, which this album definitely needed. Please Me looses this progression by falling into safe territory with its poorly Kasabian-like lyrical style, the redeeming factor is the band’s musicianship – which remains consistently strong throughout, especially Halliwell (Bass) and Rogers (Drums).
Test Pilot seems to be what this album is. I just feel so confused by it. I don’t understand the reason behind the songs and the mismatch in genre, all are completely and utterly well-crafted songs (they really are) but they don’t belong on the same album. The tail end of the album’s tracks: Now You Try, Save You, Red Light and Operator were only played halfway through, I just couldn’t say anything more or anything fair about them, they’re pretty much cut and paste copies of the previous tracks. Impact is a strong song, nice chorus and catchy tune to say the least, which sets me up with hope but to be honest I hit the play button for the finale track with a lot of hesitance, but alas. The finale, Dark Thoughts, thank goodness for this song. B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L, a really lovely song, genuinely beautiful lyrically, emotionally captivating and musically dynamic, well-crafted, really really nice to hear, and right at the end too.
So, my verdict. I’m sorry boys, I’ve been harsh, but when you hear beautiful tunes like Cupboards Painted Red and Dark Thoughts it makes me question, Why this album? Why the rush?
I feel like those two songs are trapped and wasted and so much more could come from them. If I wasn’t already confused by my day on this bleak Wednesday evening, I most certainly am now.
Puppet Rebellion’s debut album ‘Chemical Friends’ is released on 17th November 2017 – and can be pre-ordered on various formats here.