The Number Ones

Sporadic comes in many forms and The Number Ones, amongst other things, have sporadic down to a fine art with a gap of 3 ½ years since the release of their impressive self-titled debut album in 2014.

It was around the time of the second 7”, 2013’s SHARON SHOULDN’T, that this group really flexed its songwriting chops for all to behold, and it’s been a joy to follow the progress as they immerse themselves in a classic format, continually finding ways of plucking diamonds from it.

Traditionally identified as the pop end of 70s punk, this is resolutely power guitar pop to modern ears, but it’s a very different animal to that which became a more American “pop punk” in the 1990s (and beyond). THE NUMBER ONES method restrains any pompous display of frills to doggedly serve the song, observing the same raw ingredients that drove the handful of bands continually associated with this bittersweet corral of brash guitars and bare souls. When precision crafted, it all works in perfect symbiosis with the 7” format – probably something that happened more in the past… But every so often, little singles still tower to great heights and this is a gleaming example.

LIE TO ME has a presence to it that masks expertly crafted pop as the immediacy of a great idea and a loud guitar. The results deceptively present themselves as fifteen minutes of writing and a fetish for a tuneful punk hook, but it takes incredible instinct to produce such work, and for it to be of this quality. Of all the tracks here, this is the definite brainworm – It’s in your head from first listen and repeats on you, as all majestic poptones should! LONG WAY TO GO is carried along on a confident rhythm/bass spine and continues with what seems to be the dominant theme of disaffection. Great chorus harmonies and an intentionally/unintentionally familiar guitar break nods and winks in a most unsubtle manner at one of several obvious progenitors. At 3:06 minutes, YOU’RE SO HAPPY I COULD CRY is the sprawling opus here – more time honoured woes of estrangement and blissful tune-mongering. Traditionally, these songs in the pop punk realm are either about unrequited love or masturbation so maybe BREAKING LOOSE is the self-love track of the release in that regard. The guitars are clean and choppy… and well… “BREAKING LOOSE” can be interpreted several ways for the sake of imposing convenient narrative where none probably exists!!!…

Pop music in the punk realm has a long but somewhat obscure history in Ireland. Take the Undertones out of the equation and you’re pretty much left with a splattering of historic 7” singles – and these artifacts are the difficult to ignore in the context of this band. A distinct strain of vintage punk as brandished by Protex, Static Routines and the Vipers informs the tone of what is presented here, and The Number Ones are, by motive rather than entrapment, locked into the genealogy of it all.

This band’s recorded legacy thus far is arguably stronger than most of what is instantly comparable – It’s not perfect, because perfect is boring, but ANOTHER SIDE OF THE NUMBER ONES is easily the best thing they have presented to the world!

If you’re frivolous enough to need this on red vinyl, forget it, it’s gone… Get it while it’s still black before all that remains is binary gibberish…

More Irish releases here…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *