What would you think of as being a ‘Covid album’?
Barstool Preachers’ totem was holing up in a Blackpool hotel in April 2021, cutting some demos and saying “okay, these sound pretty good”. Less than two years later, we have Above The Static.
Straight from the off, it invokes the need for the human contact we all missed, and maybe still do…opener “Call Me On The Way Home” is the up-beat friend you need when no-one’s around.
Gang chant vocals and ‘fackin’ Lahndan’ spoken-word preaching abound (occasionally even through band-pass ‘megaphone’ filters for added ‘politik’), alongside the odd reggae middle-8 section and some storming space-filling bass playing reminiscent of Rancid’s Matt Freeman (a compliment I don’t give lightly)…no fan of old-school punk is going to come away from this disappointed.
“Never Gonna Happen” nails the colours firmly to the mast (“It’s the immigrants, scream the expats, from some sunny beach in Spain…it’s Johnny Foreigner”, “there’s a McDonalds in Cuba”)…as an album, this is the blend of nihilism, frustration and humanism which the world needs right now.
Barstool Preachers seem to have found the zeitgeist without really trying to, like prospectors coming across gold in a river and following it up the stream. Don’t hit it TOO hard, or you’ll lose it.
There’s the mid-album “Lighthouse Keeper”: a piano tune totally out of keeping with the rest of the album, but the soul-torn lyrics and the attack on the keys beg to be heard.
And they avoid the stereotypical end-of-album lull with a couple of literal four-on-the-floor bangers accompanied by tasty guitar histrionics and a full-on ska-fest in the form of ‘Don’t Die Today’ before ‘Going Forward’ invokes a Frank Turner-esque folk-punk finalé.
This belongs in the days when an album was a work of art…listen to it end-to-end, you’ll thank me.
- Reviewed by Ian Savage
- Above The Static is released via Pure Noise Records on 21st March 2023
1. Call Me On the Way Home
3. All Turned Blue
5. Never Gonna Happen
7. Lighthouse Keeper
8. Love The Love
9. Prince Of Nothing
10. Two Dog Night
11. Don’t Die Today
12. Going Forward