This is the second EP by GRIT in 6 months – a prolific miracle by Irish standards, but one that displays resolve and ambition. Again, the vinyl release is handled here by Distr-Oi Records (a sub-label of Distro-y Records) and seems to be peddled as something on the periphery of Oi music, but Grit is trading in a sound that is resolutely melodic punk. In that regard, it has more in common with the Avengers – basic, tuneful and a little rough around the edges. It’s not feral enough to be Oi and judging by general lyrical disposition, never will be. This is of course a good thing – aspiring backwards contributes nothing of worth to half a century of punk music.
Semantics aside, this sophomore EP features two new tracks – PUSH ON THROUGH and DIAMOND along with PAULINE & NOWHERE ELSE, the leftovers from the band’s 2016 GHOST ESTATES demo that didn’t quite fit on the self titled 7”. From first spin, the leap forward is instantly apparent. The new material distinguishes itself as obvious progress – effective use of restrained guitar leads and backing vocals add greatly to the fundamentals, leaving everything previous a little flat sounding by comparison. PUSH ON THROUGH best displays this progress with leaner lyrics and an upbeat charge that works better for the band than mid-paced stylistic assimilations elsewhere. The title track DIAMOND takes a more anthemic approach – The only thing that seems amiss is backing vocals. Ultimately, there’s little waste and both new tracks are served up in just over 5 minutes.
If there is an undertone of a street punk style running through this band, then PAULINE and NOWHERE ELSE on the flipside demonstrate this, the later being the nearest GRIT has to a “crew” song. Thematically, all the lyrics sit comfortably in a socio-personal context. There’s plenty of banging to rights but no hackneying or political rhetoric.
Previous bands of GRIT personnel (as well as some still active) have traded primarily in power, volume and dynamics, but diving head deep into basic tuneful punk is a different beast altogether and deceptively tricky to produce quality results from. While the playing can be as accessible or stripped down as you like, finding a clear identity on that well-worn path can be illusive. It all hangs on quality of songwriting because there’s nowhere to hide incomplete ideas under noise or speed.
In terms of what Grit has offered us so far, potential is more than evident if not fully realised. This may be the sound of a band just off the starting blocks but it’s a fine start!