With yesterday’s DIY heroes breaking out into the wider arena, the underground community needs new heroes to fill the shoes vacated by those moving on.
Step forward Nottingham indie-punks Isaac. Bristling with attitude, tales of lost romance and a world-weary cynicism, they’re likeable from the off. They’re also not afraid to borrow heavily from various parts of the more melodic punk spectrum. “Sweetheart, smash my fucking teeth out,” they sing on the excellent ‘Sweetheart’, and if you’re fan of buzzsaw Alkaline Trio style guitars and gallows lyrics you’ll be hooked.
Fortunately, they don’t drift too near to the schlock punk end of the spectrum for too long, yet pillage wantonly from the last 20 years of melodic punk throughout. ‘Locks Without Keys’ starts just like The Weakerthans’ ‘Aside’ (in fact, the riff is so similar I had to check it wasn’t a cover), yet is a fun, upbeat 3 minute pop-punk song, while ‘Turtleshell Sunglasses’, a sub-2 minute blast, owes more to the likes of Brit stalwarts Turtlehead and Vanilla Pod than their US or Canadian peers.
Elsewhere, ‘April 29th’ is a really charged effort which recalls the melodic hardcore sound of yesteryear (albeit with the focus very much on melody). It’s to Isaac’s credit that such songs sound fresh and vibrant despite harking back to a sound that was popular two decades ago, but it’s also refreshing to hear a band just throw out some gimmick-free, glorious melodic punk songs with the focus very much on strong songwriting, great hooks and big doses of melody.
This is best seen on the triumphant ‘Slab Square’ and ‘Ghosts’. The former is as timeless as a simple punk rock song gets, but a cheeky, effective little piano break adds a huge amount of depth to the sound, while the latter is a rollicking good fist in the air anthem that is constructed with sweaty call-and-response mosh pits in mind.
Musically, it means Isaac remain on the money, even though there’s little original about them. However, the real beauty lies in the delivery of some well-observed, sincere lyrics which makes ‘Burner’ a compelling and enjoyable listen throughout.
‘Burner’ by Isaac is out now on Don’t Ask/Golden Triangle Records.
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)