Spycatcher's debut is chock-full of anthems, which have the capacity to reach far beyond the punk demographic...
On the face of it, a chorus that defiantly announces: “I don’t like people / I don’t like meeting them” does not constitute a rousing call to arms, but on (you guessed it) ‘Don’t Like People’, Spycatcher take a decidedly melancholy subject matter and turn it into a fist-pumping sing-along with consummate ease. This is a trick that the latest shit-hot commuter belt exports repeat numerous times on this, their debut full-length release, and which they pull off thanks to an innate sense of style which is entirely their own. The uninspiring environs of Watford town may be where the gruff-throated quintet call home, but ‘Honesty’ finds them mining a soul-drenched rock ‘n’ roll sound palpably dripping with class, which allows them to not only transcend the confines of their hardcore-indebted past, but to flex musical muscles which many will be surprised to learn they have. Gorgeous organ-driven opener ‘Tabs’ is a case in point, wrapping introspective rumination in the warmest of embraces, only for frontman Steve Sears to admit: “I promised a friend I would sing / about rolling tabs at the roadside.”
Smashing the system this is not, but in its determination to speak from the heart, irrespective of what the world might think, ‘Honesty’ is the most punk rock record you will hear this year. That said, much like their obvious forefathers The Clash, Spycatcher have taken the spirit in which punk was originally intended and welded it to songs that have the capacity to reach far beyond the increasingly redundant mohawks and bootstraps demographic.
The album may have its more upbeat moments – the ludicrously catchy ‘Remember Where You Were When Michael Jackson Died’ being a prime example – but elsewhere the brooding, low key ‘Reason To Breathe In’ comes across as Radiohead meets Deftones, whilst the tuneful, carefully measured ‘There Is No Light’ wouldn’t sound out of place on a Jimmy Eat World record. Then again, ‘Honesty’ is an album that deals in the unexpected and which is wise beyond its years; an effortless-sounding, impeccably paced and flawlessly constructed collection of songs which one might reasonably expect from a group of musicians with decades of experience behind them, rather than a band still very much in their infancy. The true indicator of ‘Honesty’’s greatness, however, is that you can actually image your nan humming the title track’s vicious hook, “You’re just a no good fucking disgrace”, as she strolls to the shops on a sunny Saturday afternoon. In fact, it would hardly be overstating matters to equate this album to a 12-step programme in how to make credible, exciting music which also manages to exude true universal appeal. The concept of the latter may be anathema to those who prefer their tunes to be a little edgier than the horseshit that perpetually clogs our airwaves, but it’s exactly what Spycatcher have achieved here, and without a shred of compromise. When Sears declares that “Nobody listens / And nobody cares,” you can’t help but feel that he’s about to proved very wrong indeed.