Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Detached - None The Wiser EP

It's safe to say that ska-punk is very much in rude health in the U.K. right now. Wherever you look, there are bands using the potent mixture of off-beats, bouncing horns and belting punk riffs to craft anthems aplenty. What's particularly refreshing is that nearly all of these bands carry their own identity with ease, and this offers a swift and effortless rebuke to certain hacks who accuse the genre of being generic, samey and hard to take seriously. In all honesty, most of these hacks are hardly the kind of people worth wasting the effort needed to take them seriously, but should you encounter one in the near future, then please point them in the direction of, on balance, the two best live acts on the circuit at this moment in time: Tyrannosaurus Alan and Random Hand. While you're at it, chuck them a copy of Detached's 'None the Wiser' EP and demand that they play it very loud on the headphones over a pint or four of beer, just to make sure they get the message.

Detached are a band I was told to look out for by quite a few people in 2010, and on the evidence of their set in Sheerness at the start of this month, this hype is nicely justified. That day, I witnessed a band high on energy and bursting to the seems with hooks, but sometimes tampered by a slightly schizophrenic delivery. To be honest, the recorded output on display on this disc does nothing but back up those impressions,but one thing I will say is that the ADHD tendencies (namely flipping between beats and tempos in the same amount of time it takes most of us to blink or register a light being switched on) seem less obvious here. I put that down to me getting to know the songs a little better after repeated listens - it seems first impressions can be misleading.

So, with that criticism disposed of in a back-alley dustbin, we are left with a collection of songs that batter the listener over the head with equal parts melody, energy, frantic tempos and fun. It's fair to say the Caerphilly sextet nail their colours firmly to the mast and aren't for turning away from the formula they've brewed, and quite frankly, why should they when it sounds this good? The six tracks fly by in short, sharp, white-hot shocks, with Rhys Mence and Owain Evans' frenzied guitars and Josh Clark's pounding drumbeats driving the action forward before allowing bursts of horns from Gareth Talbot and Ben Nicholls to mesh in and out of the action to great effect. Mence's gravelly, bellowed vocals work very well, and bassist Gethin Lock does a mean job of keeping the guitars on a tight leash and locking everything together. Overall, the band, despite their numbers, are a potent and razor-sharp cocktail of speed and musical chops. If one is looking for direct comparisons, then try to imagine an unholy alliance between Less Than Jake and mid-90s era NOFX, with the result being as good as that combination sounds.

As for the songs, can I just say that whoever wrote the intro/chorus riff to 'F.U.B' deserves a beer for writing hands down one of the catchiest riffs this year and for many years. Oh yeah, and the song it's attached to isn't too bad either. Opener 'Don't Bite The Crust' sets the frantic tone from the outset, and the closing one-two burst of 'Horizons' and 'Rid Of It' are also highlights in the festival of punchy hooks and melodies. 'Teeth Rattling Boneshaker' is perfectly placed mid-disc, as it offers a nice, skank-tastic interlude, and is guaranteed to whack a smile on your face; that's assuming the tracks surrounding it haven't done that already, of course, which is highly unlikely, as this is overall one of the most enjoyable discs I've heard in a while.

I could be picky and say that the production quality, whilst brilliant at boosting out the guitars, makes the bass and drums sound a little rubbery, or that the songwriting is still a little rough around the edges, but the bottom line is this: there are records that I listen to once or twice, then put on the shelf and occasionally dig them out now and again thereafter, and there are records that I put on and winding up listening to start to finish multiple times in succession. This EP falls squarely in the latter category. Great fun, and if this is a blueprint of the future, then bring it on - 2011 is there for the taking for Detached on this evidence.

Label: None (Unsigned)
Release Date: 13th March 2010

Rating: 8.5/10

Standout Tracks: 'Don't Bite The Crust', 'F.U.B.', 'Teeth Rattling Boneshaker'.

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