EARLS have finally made it. Three years from their first gig, the punk duo from Leicester, in collaboration with DIY record label Earwig, are releasing their debut album. Orbiting between the old and the modern, representing the new generation, questioning the status quo in the same way as 70s punx did, EARLS had to make a place for themselves. Welcome to the Cardboard Palace – hedonistic, utopian underground, a hideaway for bottom-class youth with broken dreams.
Anthony Lamb and George Prosser’s ‘skum’ punk is angry, progressive and impossibly well-timed. EARLS prove that quality is not quantity. Ant’s shouty vocal and cutting-edge strip back guitar playing with George’s primarily high-power drum beats combines the spirit of Slaves and Idles (especially on Joy as an Act of Resistance) with The Clash-like undertones.
“I’m a man, I must be over six-foot tall,” are the first words of the opening track – an unapologetic, metaphorical middle-finger showed to the British toxic masculinity. While lyrically creating the image of the football freak, family provider, narrow-minded, stereotypical perfect bloke, instrumental is also on point. The battle anthem-like rhythm goes louder the angrier we get. I’m A Man is a slap in the face of the ignorance, painful but necessary.
The ideal lad got his issues. EARLS, in Anger Management, comment upon the coexisting hypocritical glamorization and contempt of the violence in society. “Nobody likes the boy who fights but everybody wants him on their side,” screams the vocalist, continuously. However, in general, guys are alright, the band admits in The Boys – the dirtier, original composition. A simple message with standing-out buzzing sound.
If the lowest of the low, the underpaid grey mass, got together, We Are Scum would be their hymn. As ridiculous as “I’d rather quit eating before I quit smoking” sounds, it does make a statement. We are poor. We are desperate. A similar vibe of being born under the wrong star, jealousy for the lucky ones and self-criticism brings Entitled. It’s sharp, loud and relevant, but not as impactful.
There is no stopping now. It’s a nihilistic hour, starting with The Weekend, musical translation of that burning urge to go out as it defines the meaning of the existence. Sad, but true – we’ve been there. Looking for a cheer up, there’s – Coming Up. Probably drugs culture inspired, the wild ride, where we finally let off the steam to the psychedelic trippy pulse, broken off with noisy reliefs of energy. Bit intoxicated, we got invited to the House Party, a never-happening, never-ending celebration where the sun won’t ever rise.
Kleptomaniac is the calmer one, with a gentle beginning and a ‘clapped’ section, about indecisiveness and unspecified desires. Lyrics partially mirror my reflections after the song – can’t decide if I like it but I, definitely, don’t mind.
Every band’s got a love song, so do EARLS. Though enigmatic ‘punk ballad’, I Can’t Move, is anything but a romantic cliché. Honest confession about not being able to be with the loved one, self-doubt and a description of the deepest emotions, is beautifully heartbreaking.
Near the end of the album comes The End Is Night – a vision of the apocalypse in today’s world of Trump and Brexit where missiles meet the walking dead. Chaotic hardcore punk and full-on rage screams are cathartic. The most disturbing of the tracks – and that’s a compliment.
EARLS managed to gather everything that’s faulty in the society and shove it right in our faces. Laughing with and at us. Cardboard Palace is a place that our generation deserves. To discuss what annoys us. To forget and live in the moment. It’s a tragic carpe diem relived every weekend. But what happens when the party’s over?
Get down to the Cookie on March 16 to the album launch event to get your own copy.