Agonisingly personal music, poured straight from the heart – just as punk should be.
Mike Haydock 2012
“She wasn’t only just my mother / She was my friend, a good friend.” So begins this debut album by Glasgow’s PAWS, singer Phillip’s off-key slacker whine preparing the ground before the distortion kicks in. “I sat and twiddled my thumbs when you told me to be strong.”
His mother, it turns out, has passed away from cancer – and it’s a theme that Phillip revisits at regular intervals on Cokefloat!. Yet as the lyrics touch on such sensitive topics, the music slashes and bashes away in joyful punk-pop fashion: these songs sound like they were thrown together in minutes and recorded with a smile. It’s a jarring combination.
Cokefloat! nods to Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr and The Lemonheads as it buzzes and fizzes along, slotting neatly alongside a host of current bands: Japandroids, Best Coast, Cloud Nothings, Veronica Falls and, in particular, Yuck. Too many contemporaries? Perhaps. Certainly, on first listen, Cokefloat! seems tuneful and energetic but a little unoriginal – and the speedy manner in which it has been put together makes it feel somewhat disposable.
But when these lyrical themes hit home and thump you in the stomach, you’re left in no doubt that there is real life here – words to take your breath away. From that point on, Cokefloat! becomes anything but disposable. “It’s been at least 10 years and I’m still holding a grudge against you,” Phillip sings on Homecoming. “The bruises and the cuts that you left on my body have stuck like glue.” Later, he admits to smashing the perpetrator’s teeth out with a pipe.
Then there’s a glorious two-finger salute on Get Bent, delivered with acerbic wit: “I’ve tried and tried and tried to get through / If you don’t even know my favourite food or animal, how can I depend on you?” And beneath the fuzz on Bloodline, he returns to the loss of his mother: “I know that you’ll never die / I’ve got your nose and I’ve got your eyes.”
This is agonisingly personal music, poured straight from the heart – just as punk should be. It’s a bonus that it’s also frightening catchy.