Formed by a trio of high school kids a few years ago, Glasgow rockers PAWS have wasted no time establishing their sound and perfecting their performance. Priding themselves on “[bashing] out infectious, lo-fi, garage pop-rock that can quickly shift from cute melancholia to an unnerving territorial roar,” their lyrics cover your typical teenage topics, such as “sarcastic self-analysis and … brutal home truths.” Unfortunately, modesty and ambition only count for so much, and despite its humility and DIY charm, their debut LP, Cokefloat! doesn’t offer anything new or worthwhile. It’s rather mediocre and forgettable.
Within the opening seconds of “Catherine 1956”, one of PAWS’ biggest flaws is proudly highlighted: the vocals are amateurish and monotonous. Granted, the music doesn’t exactly call for complex harmonies and professional singing, but it’s still a big issue. Aside from that, listeners are treated (or subjected to, depending on your position) to run-of-the-mill guitar timbres, chord progressions, and rhythms. Really, the only charming thing about the track is the lyrics, which capture rather well the “troubles” of adolescent life.
“Jellyfish” is slightly more intriguing (although there’s a definite Blink 182 influence). Really, the song feels like scraps of something that a better band (namely, Mew) could recycle and improve greatly. With “Homecoming”, PAWS improves its melodic sensibilities a bit, and “Pony” sees the trio venturing toward more affective pop. It’s a relatively decent offering due to some nice guitar work and a touch of emotion. Sadly, both the music and title of “Boregasm” reminds us that we’re dealing with three inexperienced, immature “musicians”. “Sore Tummy” features admirable harmonies, and the core songwriting is definitely an improvement, but it’s still nothing special.
There’s a refreshing delicacy to “Get Bent” that makes it the album’s best track overall (which, let’s be honest, isn’t really saying much). Its somewhat interesting arrangement helps it stand out a bit. With “Miss American Bookworm” and “Winner’s Don’t Bleed”, PAWS seems to be invoking the spirit of At the Drive-In, but it’s more in terms of volume and approach than quality and execution. Finally, album closer “Poor Old Christopher Robin” is probably the most diverse song, as it features a fair amount of dynamic shifts. Its sense of finality is effective, too, which is good, right?
As you can probably tell, it’s a bit hard to grant Cokefloat! few positive remarks. While it’s not obnoxious or invasive, it’s also not the least bit pleasant, memorable, or new. I suppose the trio deserves some level of respect for attempting something artistic, working together to see their ambition come to fruition, and doing all they can to spread the word about it. However, the end result is absolutely ordinary and meaningless. It sounds muddy and uninspired (which, while probably intentional, doesn’t make it any more acceptable). In essence, PAWS isn’t doing anything here that many other bands, such as Nirvana, Loud Family, Pearl Jam, and the Pixies, as well as the other aforementioned artists, didn’t do first and much better. PAWS can’t be faulted for playing together, but they can be blamed for officially releasing their output and expecting anyone to care.