And then look at the cover art for ‘Party On’. Bloody great isn’t it? It’s absurd and daft and a little bit ‘what the fuck?!’. You’re rooting for Big Awesome before a note has even been struck.
Unsurprisingly, ‘Party On’ doesn’t quite match this build up, but it’s still a prime slice of emo-tinged indie-punk. Instead, the band have crafted an enjoyable debut full-length that has cult classic written all over it.
Opener, the brilliantly titled ‘What Grows Up Must Get Down’ kicks things off with a furious rolling drumbeat and a chorus that’s designed for sweaty dive clubs. Throw in some glorious guitarlines and you’ve got a Menzingers-lite anthem that is as good an opening song as you’re gonna hear all year.
Both ‘Hooper’ and ‘Wolf’ add further dimensions to their sound. ‘Wolf’ in particular marries punchy punk and delicate emo together beautifully, with John Blanken’s vocals straining throughout. Better still, ‘Foliage’ has this sexy riff that is just off the scale. It’s completely unexpected, but hits home beautifully. Married with Blanken’s pleading vocals it means ‘Foliage’ is a genuine show-stopper.
After that, and with a blueprint well and truly established over these opening 4 songs, ‘Party On’ is a romp that entertains but does little to change up the sound. It’s frantic yet well-measured, enjoyable but not outstanding. ‘To Live And Die In The Dirty South’ comes armed with a top-notch chorus to keep your interest piqued, while ‘Birdfeeder Pt. II (The Reckoning)’ is a sprawling patchwork of peaks and valleys which adds some much needed light and shade.
But for all its excellent points – and there are many – ‘Party On’ is something of an anomaly.
I should love it – it hits all the right buttons for me to absolutely adore it. Lyrically it’s pretty much perfect, it walks the ideal line between indie, emo and punk, and guitarist Colin Czerwinski and Blanken excel throughout, having crafted some really excellent songs. Yet it just doesn’t connect with me as much as I’d like or hope.
It’s like finding yourself in the friend zone when you want something more. You just want to scream “I’m so right for you!” but you know such actions are futile. That’s how I feel about ’Party On’. Big Awesome have made an album lots of people will love – and rightly so – but it’s just not quite awesome enough for me for me to get down to.
’Party On’ by Big Awesome is out now on Jetsam-Flotsam.
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)