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Fist City - It's 1983, Grow Up! (Album Review)

Tuesday, 18 June 2013 Written by Huw Baines

Fist City's new record, 'It's 1983, Grow Up!', is a grimy beauty, a collection of swaggering punk tunes boasting huge melodies, wild surf guitar and swirling psychedelia.

Released in their native Canada last summer, the album will finally get a UK push on July 8 through Black Tent Press. It's 27 minutes of barely controlled chaos and a timely reminder that punk rock still has the power to thrill, with sharp political and social observations carried off by the band's songwriting prowess.

Hailing from Lethbridge, Alberta, the band are a fine addition to Canadian punk's patchwork quilt and at times doff a sonic cap to compatriots Fucked Up.

Informed by the band's fearsome live reputation, singer Kier Griffiths' gender re-assignment, a smattering of church disapproval and a stint in rehab for guitarist Evan Van Reekum, 'It's 1983, Grow Up!' is a gleeful cacophony created by a great rock 'n' roll band.

The record's lead-off single, Boring Kids, opens proceedings and demonstrates everything that the band do well. Griffiths spits out an insanely catchy vocal line over pounding drums and guitars straight out of the New York Dolls' repertoire, with the lyrics taking aim at a “major political Freaky Friday-Jamie Lee Curtis kind of death switch” between Toronto and Calgary's mayors.

The Creeps slows things down and throws in the first elements of surf rock, while the excellent Weak Ends struts along accompanied by organ stabs, like a knife-wielding Nerves, as Griffiths implores “don't make this harder than it has to be”.

Caveman's Lunch and Fuck cascade from the speakers with choppy guitars, the latter taking a dark turn as Griffiths drawls “this is where the story ends”. Both tracks pick up the pace and drag the record kicking and screaming to its highlight, the superb Wet Freaks. Incorporating elements of early '90s indie, particularly in the intro's jangly guitars, here Griffiths really excels. Amid the fury, it's a short, sweet pop interlude.

The album powers to its close through another wave of surf rock in Endless Bummer, and some nods to the reverb-soaked heyday of post-punk and new wave on Spit, which begins with one of the album's best riffs. On Burn Burn Burn Burn, Griffiths slips between brooding verses and a chorus so infectious that it'll mercilessly eat at you for days.

The album's final act is the British Invasion-influenced We Were Never Bored, a title that sums up 'It's 1983, Grow Up!” perfectly. This isn't a record for a quiet night in, it's one for lost evenings and reckless abandon. 

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