March 3, 2023

In truth, this was an album which caught me off guard in terms of just how good it is

An album title like Your Heroes Are All Dead might give the impression that we are in for a doom-laden lament plunging us into a trough of misery, as we are pummelled by down-tuned riffing. That, however, would be quite far from the truth. By the same token, the band’s own description as ‘pop-punk’ is just as far away from the reality in the other direction, as this record has for the most part moved comprehensively away from the impression created by that less than promising label. There’s certainly a deft way with a catchy chorus in evidence throughout this album, though the maturity of the playing and the songwriting leaves ‘punk’ as a mere starting point, with hard rock, indie rock and metal to the fore, with even the occasional hints of prog courtesy of regular slabs of Pure Reason Revolution-style attack. It’s a powerful and exhilarating mix, with the energy characteristic of such a youthful band keenly in evidence.

So Long Space Girl – lurking as far from the camera as possible

The opening title track sets the scene brilliantly. A hard-hitting assault with metallic riffery aplenty, it possesses a sprightly attack reminiscent of the likes of Eddie And The Hot Rods in their pomp, driven along by the superb drum-work of Anina Barrett, whose perfectly placed and razor-sharp fills kick things up into another gear. It may not exactly be an optimistic lyrical message about the state of the world (a theme reinforced throughout the album), but the music puts a spring in the step rather than a desolate trudge. The subsequent Spineless ups the ante still further – slower, and powerfully heavy, it’s an inexorably bitter and recriminatory piece which works to stunning effect, its concluding section in particular. It’s a very strong candidate for the best song here, though it does have some stiff competition. By contrast, the single, and third track, Peaches And Cream, is probably the closest thing on the album to that ‘pop-punk’ description, and as such suffers by comparison to its weightier predecessors – though by the same token it remains in the listener’s head as a persistent earworm afterwards, so in that sense it does what it sets out to do very well.

Things reach another peak with the following track, the interestingly titled I Hate You But I Hate Myself More – one of the tracks here which echoes the Pure Reason Revolution template, it’s another superbly judged piece, balancing the power and strident catchiness superbly. In truth, there isn’t really a poor track from this point on, though there are real highlights in the form of the gloriously strident Like A Bomb and the penultimate track Pull The Trigger – the later being a bitterly acerbic comment on the state of the world and, particularly, humanity, with bonus points being earned by a tremendous use of the word ‘fuckwits’. There is a latter-day Big Country aura about that one – something along the lines of All Go Together from the classic The Buffalo Skinners album. Tonight is notable for breaking away from much of the surrounding pattern in the form of a cathartic tale which could almost be described as a ‘power ballad’, while the closing seven-minute double header of Into The Great Undying / A Long Way To Run, A Longer Way To Climb ends things on a rather splendidly multi-faceted note.

In truth, this was an album which caught me off guard in terms of just how good it is – the reason for that being the somewhat misleading and hopelessly inadequate description of ‘pop punk’, and also the ‘cartoon’ cover art which, while nice to look at in itself, does feed into that light, frothy pop-punk aesthetic once again. Indeed, this is an album of far more gravitas than its presentation would lead you to assume – and it would be a real shame if it missed out on reaching an audience which would surely appreciate it for the mature and literate work of hard rock excellence that it is. A punk influence? Why certainly. A pop element? In terms of the songwriting, undeniably. Pop-punk as a whole? This is so much more than that. Check it out – you might well be pleasantly surprised.