|New Generation Superstars – ‘King Of The World’ (Underdog Records)|
|Written by Mark Ashby|
|Wednesday, 08 March 2017 05:30|
This, the fourth album from Nottingham noiseniks New Generation Superstars, has been kicking around URHQ on t’other side of the Irish Sea since before it was released at the beginning of January. It has found its way onto our battered stereo system more than a few times, often serving as the soundtrack to laborious tasks such as trawling the hundreds of emails we receive every day, or assigning reviews to the team. But, each and every time it has been spun I have said to myself “I must get around to reviewing this…” Well, now I have, so apologies to AJ, Davey, Jonny and Mord for the delay, but they say that patience is a virtue and good things come to him who waits…
When NGS first exploded onto the east Midlands punk ‘n’ roll scene they were described as being "too punk for the rock crowd, and too rock for the punk crowd". Certainly, in the ten years since the release of their debut album, ‘Crash Course In Rock N Roll’, they certainly have ploughed their own furrow, eschewing multiple offers from “big name” record companies and management companies to prove the old ethos that if you want something done properly then you fucking well better do it yourself… each of their four albums have been released on their own label, the aptly named Underdog Records: but, one thing that NGS have proven over the years is that these particular underdogs not only have a big bark but an even bigger bite.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a band a decade into their career, ‘King Of The World’ is an extremely mature sounding album, exuding confidence from every groove. It also is an extremely ambitious: while retaining the band’s basic, chaotic punk rock attitude and sound, it also sees them experimenting with orchestration, showing a recognition that, at this stage of their career, any band must evolve while also remaining true to their roots.
Opener ‘Friend Or Foe’ kicks off with that clichéd trick of someone scanning through a radio dial until they find something they want to listen to: however, NGS bring their own twist by interjecting snippets of some of the remaining ten tracks into the frequency changes. The song itself is a fairly standard punk ‘n’ roll offering which chunders along at a pleasant pace and serves as an amiable and effective appetiser for what is to come. The title track is pure nascent punk ripped straight from the heart of the ‘70s with its declaration that “you don’t have to settle for what you can get, so take what you want, fuck all the rest”.
‘Taste Of Me’ is another joyous punk romp, underpinned by a big ass rawk ‘nf’n’ roll riff with more than enough dirt under its fingernails to keep even the choosiest of glunk fans ecstatically happy long enough to jerk off in the leopard print spandex. ‘Out Of My Head’ is a real chugger, with its thumping bass beat guaranteed to get heads banging and feet stomping at gigs, before the band hit us smack in the face, or in the gonads, with the album’s big surprise and twist, the epic – well, it does clock in at 7’38” – ‘Hold On’. Mord Fustang steps out from behind his drum kit to take up another stool, at the piano, prefacing the atmospheric dual vocal between AJ and Sophia Marshall, a singer best known for her indie-folk work and who brings a haunting Julianne Regan quality to this sweeping and beautiful slice of optimistic melancholia which wouldn’t sound out of place as one of the mellower moments on a symphonic metal album. The band promised us surprises on this album, and they sure do deliver, and there are more to come…
But first, there’s loads more punk rock brawling action. ‘Keys To The City’ is suitably brash and defiant in its classic Buzzcocks-style sensibility, with its rumbling bass mien and chanted chorus, before the Superstars turn back the clock with the riotous pop punk pump of ‘Crash Homage’, a clear homage to their debut album and no more suitable way to mark said release’s tenth birthday than recording the title-song-that-never-was. ‘Damn You (To Hell And Back)’ sees Jonny Suicide step up to share the vocals in the sort of Ramones-meets-Mott The Hoople swagger (the latter augmented by the addition of a rollicking piano) that probably would have Dom Daley creaming his jeans. ‘Halo’ is brash, with a massive sleazy undertone and a middle-finger salute of curled lip arrogance: but, when you’ve been around the block as much as New Gen have, and survived to produce fucking fantastic tunes such as this, then you’ve the right to be an arrogant mofo, ‘cos you earned it…
Then they twist things again, getting all country blues on our pogoing asses with ‘Hello’. A sweeping ballad, it really shows what a great voice AJ possesses when he chooses to stretch his larynx to that extra chord as he pleads “hello, do you need me now” and promises “you’ll never hear me say goodbye”. A lovelorn tale, in a funny way it reminds me of the switch in direction which Bon Jovi hinted at with ‘Wanted Dead Or Alive’, put without the commercialized pastiche of a western movie wannabe: more Ginger Wildheart than JBJ, thankfully.
The title of ‘Last Of A Dying Breed’ suggests that they might be continuing along the same road as its predecessor, but instead it’s a crunching, if somewhat mundane (at least in the context of this album) hard rocker which declares “this ain’t no fucking love song, it’s a rock ‘n’ roll anthem”: I’m not sure if I agree on the latter assertion as there’s nothing really anthemic about it, and it’s perhaps the only filler on this otherwise all killer album. Closer ‘Not Like You’ sees them going out in epic style, as it clocks in at dead on the seven-minute mark. It’s a real slow builder, the initially DC-ish emerging from the background of Fustang’s thumping war cry percussion, before morphing into another act of snarling mid-paced punk rock defiance that echoes its title throughout its lyric while giving the musicians an opportunity to stretch themselves and show off both their individual and collective rock credentials. And the afore mentioned Mr Daley would just love the handclapping segment at the four-and-a-half-minute mark…
‘King…’ is a great album from a band who are assured in where they have come from and where they stand now, without being afraid to push the boundaries of the experiences which have brought them to this moment in their career: a move which should not only see them consolidate their position as one of the most exciting bands on the Über circuit at the moment, but also one who once again can prove that they are punk enough for the rockers and rocky enough for the punks…
‘King Of The World’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.
New Generation Superstars play the new HRH Sleaze festival at the O2 Academy in Sheffield over the weekend of 2/3 September.
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