What would be the first three sides of a double vinyl is the 16 recent non-album tracks, which make for an uptempo collection of hard rocking punk pop tunes that are brightly melodic without being poppy radio pleasers. Chris Cresswell has a strong voice full of gravel, which gives the Canadians a harder edge than many similar bands, even on the more forgettable tracks like ‘Cut Your Teeth’ and ‘Daggers’.
There are a number of tightly played hard rocking tracks on display though, the catchy ‘Lifers’ and ‘Calutron Girls’, with its shredding solo, both hitting the spot. Other high points include the furious ‘Run Like Hell’, the vocally driven ‘Broken Men’ and the heavyweight ‘407’. Unfortunately, the record does start to drag a little as one track blends into another, the awful lyric of ‘Hot Trouble’ being the albums lowest point.
Thank Christ for the cover version and bonus tracks then! Apart from the dull ‘Ahead by a Century’ (The Tragically Hip) the other covers are a refreshing blast of punky frolics; Johnny Cash’s ‘Cry, Cry, Cry’, Astpai’s ‘Southwards’ and Rocket from the Crypt’s ‘Straight American Slave’ all maintaining their cool whilst getting The Flatliners stamp. However, they actually save the best till last, with the superb pure punk rock of ‘Get out of My Face’ and the ska-tinged ‘Spill your Guts’, which makes me want to check out their early work.
Although an album of 23 tracks is probably a little daunting for someone new to the band, especially given the more monotonous moments, there is enough good stuff on here to warrant further investigation, as well as a few gems for the more nerdy follower.
‘Division of Spoils’ by The Flatliners is out on now on Fat Wreck Chords.
Words by Edward Layland (@EdwardLayland)