Despite being a relatively obscure name for many, there are many pairs of eyes currently upon Pet Needs. Forming approximately midway through the decade just gone, the Colchester alt-punk quintet have chalked up an impressive curriculum vitae thus far, sharing stages with the likes of Maxïmo Park, Buzzcocks, The Undertones and a myriad of others off the back of a meagre handful of singles. Now offering their Frank Turner produced debut LP via Xtra Mile, one wouldn’t be too surprised if the band were anxious about meeting lofty expectations. Thankfully for everyone involved, Fractured Party Music hits the bar it faces with relative ease and flair.
A record that touches upon a plethora of stylings within the punk spectrum - in a slightly messy manner at first - Fractured Party Music articulates the woe that is modern living with flustered energy and a deadpan sense of humour that’s tragically relatable on a brutalist level. Granted, this is an overarching theme that has been adapted and probed countless times over the last several years – for clearly understandable reasons - but the fervently combustible energy and loose dynamism here ensure the record’s longevity and impact.
True to its respective namesake, bombastic opener ‘Outline’ summarises the overall atmosphere of grit-caked energy that this album hosts. As vocalist Johny Marriott frantically bellows out ironic platitudes whilst guitarist sibling George flays his reverb laden fretboard within an inch of it’s life, the sheer flammable energy propels the record down the rails, right into the more composed lead single ‘Tracey Emin’s Bed’. Drawing comparisons between the much studied 1998 contemporary art piece and spiralling mental wellbeing for provocative effect, the track and follow-up ‘Sympathetic Accent Syndrome’ see Pet Needs distilling that energy and decanting it into engaging vocal deliveries. Throughout these tracks, and material such as ‘Overcompensating’ and ‘Toothpaste’, Marriott engages in unhinged ramblings, classic call and response chantings and borderline slam poetry in a guinully engaging fashion.
The manic energy may be one this record’s most notable elements, but as this LP progresses, Pet Needs’ homegrown and intricate sound emerges to take centre stage. Onwards from the stripped back and bleakly poetic affair of ‘As The Spin Cycle Span’ - a miserably cynical track lamenting the essentially futile nature of the daily grind – Fractured Party Music utilises its core energy to barrel through the sounds of the punk canon. Elements of classic hardcore (‘Kayak’), desert country (‘Scratch Card’) and scrappy modern noise punk (‘Embers’) thrash loose and wild in the second chapter of the album, all whilst emitting the volatile homegrown ethos Pet Needs have spent the last several years crafting. As the unhinged energy from the start is used to fuel experimentation in a more concise manner, it wouldn’t be untrue to state that such a sound is akin to a Buckfast infused amalgamation of WACO, Crazy Arm and Oxygen Thief.
The fervently relatable melee of ‘Roses’ demonstrates this claim perfectly. As the group document how greenery is being stripped en-masse for lifeless asphalt and concrete, Pet Needs’ take on modern punk berserks with impassioned dynamism, ranging from loose riffs to barrages of carbonated disorientation with promiscuous flow. Such a track is easily one the best songs here and a masterful example of the group’s flair.
Granted, even if Fractured Party Music does lie as being bottom heavy, the debut long play from Pet Needs is invigorating in a manner that borders upon being overwhelming. Initially a deluge of adolescent energy, once such stamina is articulated in a manner more concise and coherent this record is a fantastic crash course in modern punk stylistics. Whilst it’s a colossal shame we may not see this record’s vigorous contents live any time soon, Pet Needs successfully stake their claim within the UK punk echelon with this record.
Fractured Party Music is out now via Xtra Mile.