There’s something unique about post-industrial small towns in the North of England in their seeming ability to spawn legendary or at least heavily cult status guitar-based music. A particular example of this would be Sunderland, famous of course for both the thinking man’s indie also-rans, the Futureheads as well as Leatherface, who, for me, remain the UK’s premier punk rock export even years after their demise.
Now here we are in closing months of thee yeare of oure Lorde, 2023 AD, with yet another gem on our hands, in the form of Tearjerker. Oft times and many, bands of great note emerge from seemingly nowhere; Tearjerker being a case in point. Formed from the ashes of local bands that achieved little or nothing, and (no offence) that weren’t that great. What can I say – mix the ingredients in the correct combination and proportions, and you can blow shit up with any old crap you’ve got under the sink. Not that I’d suggest doing that – it’s the kind of thing that results in Paul Gascoigne rocking up in tears with a 4 pack and a fishing rod to plead with you to sort your life out.
As often is the case, I digress. I’d say I’m sorry, but if you’ve spent any time at all reading this website, I’m prone to this type of nonsense…
As it’s Sunderland, in other reviews, you’ll be hard pushed to avoid lazy Leatherface comparisons. Although there are guest vocal appearances by our beloved Frankie Stubbs (on Love Being Alone, for example), Tearjerker are casting their net a bit wider. I’ve already mentioned it’s 2023 (it can be hard to tell when constant drudgery makes one day blur seamlessly into the next), so at this point no fucker is reinventing the wheel; it’s pretty redundant – look at Refused and the unjustly lauded Shape of Punk to Come (which is still an absolute toilet of a record in my opinion).
In a broader sense, I like to think of punk rock as arable land, the furrows of which cannot be overploughed if you do it properly. There’s lots of farms in the UK, in’t’there mate, which tends to lend credibility to the analogy I’m doubtless struggling to make. We have the massive soaring elements that make bands like Samiam, Custody and Ways Away firm favourites in our house(see Home for example). We also have the swinging hooks of classic Nothington (see Full Circle).
In addition, we pay visits to classic No idea Records bands like Gunmoll for sheer viscerality of feeling (for example on Dear Malcolm). Not to mention the everyman popped-out yell alongs of bands from the heyday of punknews.org bands from the Kiss of Death Records and A.D.D. Records rosters, ala Witches With Dicks, New Bruises and so on… And I love owt like that, me.
There’s an inescapability to some of the deep cuts on this record that recall the anthemic qualities of bands like Iron Chic and Off With Their Heads (on Bad Mind). This is something that I think a lot of people are going to find as reassuring as chucking on a pair of comfy old slippers. To further reassure afficionados of the genre, there is no slipping into the out and out turdery of those sacks of soggy shit The Menzingers and The Flatliners. If you have the misfortune to dig on that type of entry level wank-stain stuff, best turn your attention elsewhere, innit; this ain’t for you, pal.
I feel like I need to give special mention to some of the vocal performances that for some bizarre reason put me in mind of Andy Cairns’ performance on Therapy?’s Troublegum. Hats off (to the Insane), sir! I also feel it would be remiss of me not to mention another bit of nostalgia with Heart of Darkness which does nothing but put me in mind of those acoustic numbers on the first few Alkaline Trio records. The whistling parts are absolute gold.
I feel like I am ridiculously in love this album. Again, I make no apology. I’ll happily sit here heaping praise on this absolute treasure trove of an album. Or I would if I didn’t have other shit to do… The devil, idle hands, all that claptrap… As is the case with all things punk rock in Sunderland, this LP was recorded by Phil Jackson at The Bunker, and mastered by Graeme Philliskirk at Rocket Studios. If you aren’t convinced by anything I’ve said above, both of these things should be taken as hallmarks of quality, innit.