“All you need is self-control,” wails lead singer Tippi on “One More Won’t Kill Me” as short, sharp blasts of thrashing guitar and rifling drums nail her words to the wall. Luckily for us self-control is something this all-girl pop-punk quartet from Glasgow don’t subscribe to; their raucous debut album flashes past, hardly leaving you time to draw breath. Although they only formed in early 2005, these ladies of the North have established themselves as post-punk upstarts to be reckoned with, honing their skills on the road where they played more than 150 shows in 12 months, not to mention being the first British band to play a virtual gig within the online community of Second Life; on the way, they fulfilled drummer Soup’s declaration that “For four girls we make one hell of a noise.”
Recorded live in only one week back in October, One More Won’t Kill Us harnesses the raw energy of those other “Queens of Noise”—the Runaways—and proves to be a rampaging set of songs that sounds fresh even when echoes of Plastic Lettersera-Blondie, early Clash, and Edinburgh’s fast and furious purveyors of ‘60s-inspired punk, the Rezillos (later to become the Revillos), slip into the mix.
The album version of their third single “Heatseeker” kicks off this high-octane ride like a hook-laden missile heading straight for the dance floor setting the tone for the next 38 minutes and 36 seconds with its combination of crisp vocals, tight rhythm section, and Rosie’s excellent, crunching lead guitar. “Couldn’t Leave Her Alone” follows, shifting the tempo into overdrive with a frenzied ‘60s beat done with a fair amount of panache. But it’s really the vocal delivery that makes this song one of the highlights and shows that Tippi’s chops as a lead singer is on par with the likes of Fay Fife and Debbie Harry.
And the best of the rest on this album all owe an allegiance to what makes Couldn’t Leave Her Alone so good - - a fun-loving blend of 1960’s girl group meets garage beat music funnelled through a punk sensibility that’s played at one hell of a frantic pace and offset by some gutsy yet melodious singing. Plummeting, or if you like hurtling, into this category are “Falling Star”, a guitar-driven rollercoaster ride (which could easily have turned up on the Rezillos’s one and only album Can’t Stand The Rezillos back in ‘78), the break-neck rock ‘n’ roll of “Stop, Look and Listen” (manic drumming drives this sucker into the stratosphere), and the unfathomably catchy “Place Like This”, which features a fabulous solo guitar wig-out.
However, what really comes across on all the numbers here is the sense of enjoyment that these four girls from Scotland are having just playing and recording together. And even if the songs do have a tendency towards sticking to a fast and furious pop-punk template, who cares when your pogoing yourself into a sweat-stained frenzy out on a darkened dance floor? Preferably, of course, somewhere decidely seedy and with a smile on your face.
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// Notes from the Road
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