Popes of Chillitown

Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard

Written by: MAK on 22/05/2018 17:07:08

It’s been three years since London ska-punk outfit Popes of Chillitown released their highly coveted album “To The Moon”, which has since seen the band become incredibly popular in the United Kingdom’s ska punk scene with their highly energetic shows and outright fun atmosphere. Now the popes return with that difficult third album, even more so as a follow up to the very hard to beat “To The Moon.” How will “Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard” live up to an album that many considered a ska masterpiece?

The first noticeable thing about this album is that it’s a fair bit more experimental than previous work, which is saying something for a band that already blends influences of ska, dub and punk in a blender. Popes also throw alternative metal into the mix for the first couple of tracks on the album. The opening song, “Prang” kicks off with the expect ska style upstroke guitar rhythms that are topped off by frontman Tarzan Goldblum’s rapped lyricism. The tempo is high, and it’s primed for skanking until the chorus kicks in with punchy distorted grooving riffs that evolve into a killer shred. The aggressive ska tone fronted by rapping vocals is incredibly reminiscent of the likes of King Prawn. None of this is alienating to any fan of Popes of Chillitown though, it’s more just a welcome addition to a unique sound. There are more examples of Popes of Chillitown showcasing their heavier influences such as in “Get Off/Get On” and “No Manners In Ireland”, the former showcasing some ragga metal influences that are reminiscent of Skindred with the dub hooks and hard-hitting riffs near the end. “No Manners In Ireland” for a large part of the track is a fun track with uplifting melodies and party vibes, yet it ends with an epic blast of guitar distortion, and captivating brass melodies.

It’s at this point we notice that most of the songs on this album have a distinct dynamic change, impressive build up and a fulfilling pay off with an epic ending. You take “Vexed”, a chirpy, rap fronted ska-punk anthem, for the most part, it’s rather chilled and closer to a third wave ska hit, yet it progresses into a high-octane track with some grit and a massive horn segment that will get your knees up. The same can be said for “What A Guy”, which starts off calm and slow, yet builds up, in the same manner, to get the blood flowing, you’ll be dancing in no time. The list goes on though, “Inner Peace” and “Lego Prisoners” also do this perfectly. The stand out track on the album though is “The Last Elephant”, a song that is happy go lucky and emulates the complete joyful and upbeat energy we love about Popes of Chillitown live. The pulsing brass, the mixture of upstroke rhythms and aggressive hooks, the dub influence with drum machines. It has everything in one song topped off by a massive singalong of “WORK HARD, PLAY HARD, SEE YOU IN THE GRAVEYARD” to close the song yet again in a very epic manner. “The Last Elephant” is the “Wisdom Teeth” of this album.

This album isn’t the instant love that “To The Moon” was, but give it time to grow on you, you’ll learn that some of these tracks are the best that Popes have ever written. The experimentation of going a tad heavier on more tracks works, but this album loses nothing about the character of this band, it just builds on it brilliantly. Popes of Chillitown are still that fun loving ska/dub/punk band with infectious hooks, and crap loads of energy we have come to expect. The harder elements just help the fun parts shine even more. With great albums from Skaciety and Call Me Malcolm out this year already, the UK ska punk scene is looking incredibly strong and “Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard” will be one of the top releases in that category for sure.

Download: The Last Elephant, Vexed
For The Fans Of: King Prawn, T//Alan, Counting Coins, Capdown
Listen: facebook.com

Release date 04.05.2018
Self Released

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