Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Stilletoes - ADHDreams

The UK version of punk was all but over a year after its 1976 inception. True, it lingered on in various snarly guises but by the early '80s it had been comprehensively co-opted by the mainstream. The rallying cry of 'Punk's not Dead' began to sound increasingly hollow and when your teachers started turning up at school sporting vaguely punk hairdos you knew that it really was time to move on.

So what to make of ADHDreams, the debut release from north Wales punk band The Stilletoes? The packaging wears its aesthetic influences on its sleeve (literally). We're treated to lurid pinks; Jamie Reid-style lettering; even that hoary old punk cliche, a safety pin. And it's not done in a playful Po-Mo kind of a way either (a la Helen Love) but appears to be quite sincere. Gulp. So it was with some trepidation, and fearing the absolute worst, that I pushed my CD machine's PLAY button.

My anxiety turned out to be entirely misplaced. ADHDreams is choc-full of great tunes and is fuelled by enough energy to light up even the darkest corners of your heart. The first-person lyrics focus, mostly, on broken down relationships and the often negative influences of drink and drugs. Not that this is a puritanical record - The Stilletoes sound like they had a shit load of fun putting it together. Producer, ex-Gorky John Lawrence, has done a great job in capturing the band's youthful zest and anarchic spirit.

Highlights include the supercharged and charmingly shambolic Hypocrite! Hyper Shit! which actually does sound as though it was spawned in 1976. Ditto Teimla y Cyffro. The feminist Cuntrol makes your average Lily Allen record resemble the banal musings of a privately educated posh girl - which she is. It's rare these days for bands to sing about the zeitgeist so Recession This!, which hails the credit crunch, is a welcome surprise. As singer/songwriter Efa Thomas puts it: I'm so glad we're all fucking poor/Bad news! Bad news! Gimmie some more. The stand-out track on the CD is I Need to Roam - a glorious hymn to freedom. Whilst Nazis Cymraeg sounds like a hand grenade being lobbed through a church window. This song has already caused a kerfuffle in the Welsh-language world with its accusations of racism. Whatever the rights or wrongs of Ms Thomas's views it's an absolute corker of a tune.

So yes, ADHDreams is as anachronistic as a Shakin Stevens record, but its visceral energy, lyrical honesty, and fuck-you-attitude far outweigh any negatives. And being so ridiculously young (the drummer is just 14!) the band can hardly be accused of indulging in punk nostalgia. ADHDreams is out now on Ankst Records. It cost me a tenner - I consider that money well spent.