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Tuesday, January 05, 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: The Defects storm through 45 Minutes of diversity

IS there such a thing as Progressive Punk? Pretty sure that amidst the realm of people who chose the names of sub-genres there may be such a thing. If not The Defects will assume that mantle now.

On new album '5 Minutes'  The Defects have taken their trademark Belfast punk sound, enhanced it, melded in rock, brief spoken word, dub step and reggae and produced an album that has enough elements to keep the listener hooked.

And, they have not lost their harsh political edge...

With punk enjoying something of a resurgence, The Defects are among the survivors of the first few 'waves' of punk. To say they have had an 'interesting career is something of an understatement. There was enough drama that local writer Tina Calder filled a book with their tales.

Over recent years the band have become a stable unit, producing good songs and engaging, energetic live shows.

On '45 Minutes' the four-piece have harnesses that live vibe, wrestled it to the ground and thrown it into a musical laboratory. The hybrid emerged roaring and ready to pounce on the unsuspecting listener.

The tunes penned by Glenn (drums) are all filled with invective and the bile of the cynic observing a world gone mad, where rock and roll in all its shapes and forms is marginalised amidst a corrupt society filled with the beige and the vanilla.

Opener 'Cut of the Action' has the punk sound infused with a rock vibe, as has 'Unstoppable'. Buck rails and rants and on Unstoppable repeats the title in the manner of a stadium rocker so pissed off with the world he may smack all in attendance.

The state of the rock world (and one 'arena' in Belfast in particular) is the target of 'Rock N Roll Is Dead Night'. And, for everyone who has suffered in this type of arena in what will relate to this. "You can't dance at this gig, you can't suck that electric cig" is just one of the lines that you hear and go "yep, been there".

There are some songs here that are already live staples. 'Traffic Island Castaway' is familiar to those who have seen recent shows, and those people will be singing along. However, the production and arrangement have taken what was a raw punk song on stage and given it a life with Roy's incessant riffing and lines.

'Southall Roots' is where the gears are changed, the vibe taken and slowed down with a punk/reggae/dub crossover is let loose. Fair enough that bands such as The Clash and SLF did this, but this is a modern take on it with groove and passion that will be a killer live.

Coming on that song's heels like a freight train on acid is 'Welcome to Nowhere' but the title track '45 Minutes' has a distinct hard rock vibe behind Buck's snarl.

We've all either fallen foul of ticket touts, or heard the tales of the dodgy sites (and some so-called legit site) which basically rip off fans. 'Reseller' takes firm aim at the bastards who rip off fans with The Defects trademark Belfast punk sound.

'Son of Corruption' on the other hand returns to the rock sound, with an added dash of a pop punk riff that the wannabes in that genre would kill to have written themselves.

Album closer 'All The Way Down' sees a return to the reggae/ska vibe, powered by a deceptively simple and effective bass line from Aidy. The nine minute plus track adds dub step and one thinks that Skindred's Benji would nod approvingly at this - a total chill out to kick back and relax to. (Stick it out after the period of silence - you'll thank me afterwards.)

Overall it is hard to find fault in this release - maybe a little more beef in the production would have given it more of an edge towards the rock orientated tracks, but that is but a minor quibble.

This is an album that given its diversity shouldn't on paper actually work on paper, but once played it keeps on giving. Progressive punk? The Defects just owned that genre.

Review by Jonny
45 Minutes is released on Punkarama
The 'Official' launch is at The Belfast Empire on 15th January

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