I hate saxophones. If there is one sound that strikes fear into my heart then it is the sound of a saxophone emotionlessly parping its way through a middle 8 like the 1980s never ended. This isn’t to say that there aren’t good songs with saxophones in, it’s just that most times the saxophone goes hand in hand with awful easy listening, lounge jazz and toothless ska revivalists.
In the mould of the latter come the Popes of Chillitown, complete with saxophones aplenty. This probably wouldn’t be so bad if Madness hadn’t done exactly the same thing with a million times more charisma a whole 25 years earlier. The shoehorning of a saxophone solo into all four songs on this EP is both unnecessary and actually detracts from the songs which in all fairness aren’t too bad. All the Ska boxes are ticked; the beats are rastafied, the bass is heavy, the guitars are skinny and the lyrics are socially conscious, albeit in a “nutty” Madness style. However the sound quality is a bit too polished and the lyrics, mostly concerned with consumerism, are at best pithy, but mostly they just sound like bad sixth form poetry.
The truth of the matter is that the band are not fully formed yet, just take their awful name for example, yes it will stick in your head, but only because its awful. In 6 months time, they, like most bands before them with a “wacky” name, will probably change it. After all who would have listened to Seymour, The London SS or The Swankers if they hadn’t changed their names to Blur, The Clash and The Sex Pistols respectively? Name aside, more pressing is just how premature sounding their music is. The songs are okay but an unsympathetic, flat and anaesthetic production (courtesy of pro tools no doubt) strip the band of any individuality. They sound like the dozens of crap bands doomed to languish at the bottom of the bill at every provincial Ska club. The band desperately needs to go back to their rehearsal room, throw away their Madness albums, concentrate on writing some better material and definitely change that god awful name.
Overall, this EP is flat and lifeless, listeners not prepared to endure tiresome generic Ska should avoid it, even those prepared to listen to dross such as Sublime will be unimpressed. With a bit more effort all round this EP wouldn’t be so bad, but as it stands, it’s just boring.