Brighton’s Gender Roles are an embodiment of the city’s DIY music scene. Their debut album Prang is something unexpected. It’s grown from experiencing loss in a place as eclectic as Brighton, and from the off, the LP will have you invested and hanging on to its every note.
The sweet and melodic sound of ‘You Look Like Death’ quickly gives way to some fast-paced riffs. Tom Bennett’s vocals are delivered with a clarity few bands of this calibre have, his shouts drawing you into the Gender Roles story. From here, the fast pace gives way to something delicate. ‘Always’ was the starting point in the creation process for Prang. The song tells of the loss of a loved one, and it offered the theme for the record – the problems we face in life.
As ‘Always’ hits the chorus, it changes from a song reminiscent of the Britpop era and becomes something spectacular: it explodes into a song far from delicate, and this unpredictable nature is recurrent throughout this album. ‘Deep End’ is yet another surprise with its swaggering tune and sleazy sound which comes back in ‘Ickie’.
Offering a brilliant bass riff as the foundation, ‘Ickie’ is a song that blooms; the chorus, short and sweet, explodes into being and fades quickly, giving way to a song that captures attention with an impressive show of restraint. Gender Roles don’t always throw everything they’ve got at a song, a habit that we quite like.
Yet, when the Brighton three-piece do go all out, they create something equally brilliant. ‘If This is Your War’ takes a stand with its bold, brash sound. With a multitude of tones, elements, and tempos, this song may not appeal to all. Yet the energy Gender Roles exude here is gripping, designed to rile up a crowd and encourage enjoyment.
‘That’s How You Want it to Be’ goes all-out in its chorus, Bennett’s screaming vocal layered over screeching guitars offering beautiful contrast to the bouncy pop punk infused verses. ‘Bubble’ closes the album in a wonderfully unexpected way. The song is formed around a blues-style riff, and while the lyrics offer a sombre tone, the clever shifts in pace keep things feeling, for the majority, light and breezy.
Prang has been offered up by Gender Roles for listeners and fans alike to make it their own. Their passion and DIY ethos show in these recordings. The subtle guitar licks, varying tones and dynamic shifts equate to something great. It’s an enjoyable listen and a wonderful surprise, sure to get you smiling or bopping along.
Prang is out August 30th via Big Scary Monsters