Offering a revitalising revival of classic British punk, three-piece London based noisemakers Play Dead are unapologetically brash and speak directly from the heart. Comprised of three sixteen-year-old friends from Herne Hill, this exciting up and coming act sing about what they know and see growing up on the streets of the capital. Opinionated and full of teenage angst and energy, their debut EP ‘Skint’ is a real firecracker.
Ideal for playing at three in the morning at a grimy underground basement party full of wasted punks, the record opens with the jaunty and apathetic ‘Hide’, about someone who just doesn’t know what the hell they want to do, but it’s mostly nothing at all because he “can’t be arsed” and he seems quite angry about it. Then there’s title track ‘Skint’ about, well, being broke, and the frustration of having your card declined. With shouty punk backing vocals – “I’m skint as fuck!” – this one gets in fast and gets out faster, lasting only a minute ten.
‘Shaun’ is a rollicking rhythmic little number involving a chorus which simply shouts the word ‘Shaun’ over the constant drive of the guitars and rhythm section that keep the track rolling like a train. Apparently this one is an ode to the bass player’s nan’s boyfriend who, according to the lyrics, likes “necking pints, starting fights, driving vans, through the night”.
Getting down to the very bare bones of classic, raw punk, these tracks don’t really have solos or lead licks or anything complex. The EP is full of simple, driving guitars with power chords, a tight rhythm section holding it down at the back, and that casual but attitude filled vocal delivery coupled with shouty backing vocals. It’s an old school formula, but it works. The lyrics too, are typically old school and classic punk. “We don’t need our liver, we don’t need our lungs,” vocalist Joe Blair informs us on ‘Brockwell Park’ a homage to a local underage drinking hangout. The track even opens up with a slightly off-kilter guitar lick, as if the guitar itself is drunk and tripping up over itself. It’s a fun song, and will no doubt be nostalgic to anyone who ever got drunk with their mates in the park. The chorus is pretty catchy too.
Rounding off the record is longest track of the collection ‘The Drip’, a song about someone who perhaps does a few too many recreational drugs. The bass really comes to the forefront here, providing the rhythmic, droning backbone of the verses before the guitars really kick in and drive forward the choruses.
With three of the five tracks coming in under the two minute marker, the EP almost feels over too quickly, giving the listener a tantalising teaser of the band’s abilities and leaving them breathlessly wanting more. The chord structures are familiar but riveting, the vocal delivery confident, leering and sarcastic and the subject matter topical and modern. They might only be teenagers but they’ve got a lot to say. It’ll be interesting to see what they have to say next.
Skint is out now via Blitzcat Records.