Indeed, one of the record’s most powerful moments comes when its otherwise manic pace slows down on “Knifey”. On a surface level a paean to the singer’s trusty knife, it’s a bitter, rallying sketch of the realities of life for women, and the dangers they face just going about their daily business. The repeated refrain of “All I ever wanted….” underlines how small a demand the right not to be exposed to violence is.
Whilst in some ways a political record, it is very much the personal as political. ‘Freaks to the Front’ imagines the world as a punk gig, the titular chorus calling the “freaks to the front” and arguing that “everybody deserves to have fun”. The songs are saved from being overly didactic and preachy by the self-deprecating humour underpinning everything. Taylor rounds off a long list of her personal defects on the song with the claim that “I’m fucking ugly”. The song ‘Security’ likewise marries astute observations about society’s treatment of difference to a chorus imploring a security guard to “let me in your hard heart, let me in your pub”.
From start to finish, the band manage the difficult balancing act of writing songs that have something to say whilst also being a lot of fun. This is music that engages emotionally and intellectually – a controlled riot. The record further establishes them as one of the great contemporary punk bands. I’m gutted that I missed out on getting tickets to see their tour in November. I suspect that these songs will sound even better live. If you made the same mistake as me, at least make sure that you acquaint yourself with this brilliant album. It’s one that will be getting a lot of repeat plays on my stereo.
Words by Will Collins