Where, oh where do I start with this album? The fact that I had to go back and check it is a debut album? The point of realisation that these guys have already played the legendary Glastonbury Festival not once but twice, and were also lined up for a third appearance this year all prior to the release of said debut album? Or by going straight to the point of being completely floored with the production and execution of the album?
This is balls to the wall old school punk fused with indie, ska and reggae, it makes a perfection of rage and anarchy that tells you Young Offenders aren’t here to f*ck spiders!
On listening to the opening track Black And Blue, I’m overwhelmed with a new but familiar sound, I close my eyes and I’m back in 1980’s sat on the living room floor watching Top Of The Pops, am I listening to The Clash, Sex Pistols or Ramones? It could be any of them. The Young Offenders have managed to capture the essence of the early punk generation with catchy lyrics and a solid rhythm section that drives home that gritty angst we have missed on the scene, their indie fusion adds an element that I never knew I needed in listening to punk but there it is.
It seems strange to praise a punk band for being musically tight, it isn’t really a genre where you want to be excellent at ‘colouring inside the lines’ but these three lads show that you can be musically talented and still pack a punch. It is immediate on Black And Blue, the vocal melody from Kyle Landman sits perfectly with the bassline that Anthony Katern stamps in.
Their indie sounds are prominent in Last night, it has that catchy riff that is reminiscent of The Fratellis and Artic Monkeys, it’s one of my favourites from the album. This song right here is a festival song, it’s a straight up anthem! We’ve all been there, gone out, drunk way too much, had too much fun, woke up dead and off we go back to the pub, it’s a right of passage or just most Sundays for some of us!
Babylon is a cheeky little riff drenched in ska punk and reggae, another track that shows the versatility and depth of Young Offenders.
I’m not one for naming every song on the album and intricately reviewing its style and influences but man is this album packed with quality tracks, its like a smorgasbord for your earholes.
You Be You has everything I love in a song, driving basslines, heavy drums thanks to Leigh Shags, a catchy chorus and a killer rock breakdown. Not only does it have all of the instant hitting hooks, it homes in on a subject core to the punk generation, this is evident in a skillfully placed excerpt of The Final Speech from The Great Dictator. As Charlie Chaplin takes you through his speech, its an apt reminder of how a speech written eighty years ago is still relevant today.
(I should like to help everyone - if possible) ……. Jew, Gentile - black man - white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness - not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men’s souls……..
High slows the tempo down a little and gives us the influences of soulful indie that you would see from The Libertines, I really enjoyed the raspy vocals within this track.
Without a shadow of a doubt the stellar track for me on the album is Broken Records, the rhythm section is tighter than the clasp on my mum’s purse when dad said he was off for a pint. The execution on this track is solid but Anthony Katern on bass is a stand out, the bassline is one of the best I’ve heard this year.
The Young Offenders don’t miss a beat, the album is punchy and contains no fillers. As fun as the album is there is a serious angst within their lyrical content, hitting the edge on serious topics of society and classes.
In a faceless music industry where albums are churned out for the consumer machine that we have had forced upon us, it’s refreshing to see a band that have stood up to tell the story of a class that needs a voice. It has been long prophesied that music is dead and that the younger generations don’t care for music that has a reason or is relevant to society, well whoever said that clearly hasn’t seen or heard Young Offenders!
Black and Blue Your Daddy’s Above The Law Last Night Babylon You Be You High Seey In The Daytime Anarchy Wasting Time Broken Records I’ll Do It Again
Review conducted for The Rockpit, Australia 22 May 2020