Punk&Roll – City Saints
Punkrockers City Saints out of Gotheburg Sweden are back with another album titled Punk&Roll, their fifth full-length album. Saying this new release is only one full-length is an understatement though, the group hasn’t been lazy. No less than 24 new tracks are presented here. City Saints has done albums both in English and in Swedish in the past, and on this one they go for both, although the tracks are divided on different sides, so there’s no mixing of languages between tracks.
Because of the division of the songs I’m going to treat this as two different albums in this review, also because they have kind of a different vibe. But we’ll come to that.
The first “album”, or side A1 and A2 if you look at the vinyl, are the tracks written in English. City Saints have always played a style of punkrock that leans quite heavily into punk’n’roll, and on this one that’s turned up to max. Reminiscent of Blisterhead, Bombshell Rocks and sometimes Randy, but on this one also with some more the Accidents-style rock’n’roll in the sound.
The lyrical themes follows the more classic rock’n’roll recipe, leaving politics and heavier subjects by the roadside and does a burnout into party-territory. There are few breaks from these themes, for example in the bit more serious track Life Goes On, one of the highlights in my ears, and One Man Riot. There’s also some minor breaks in tempo, for example in Gothenburg City, but other than that it’s pretty much pedal to the metal straight through. The decision of putting the, for me, obvious opening track Bang Bang last on the record baffles me a bit. It has all the components of a show-opener and would have been a nice opener on the record as well.
After my first few listen-troughs I thought there was a bit of lack of variation in tempo and style. But the more I’ve listened the more I pay attention to the nuances in the songs and my mind has changed a bit in this regard. The general tempo and style is quite similar throughout, but some songs leans more heavily into rock’n’roll, some are more straight up punkrock and everything between those two, and some even have a bit of an Oi!-feeling. This makes it an interesting listening and I never find myself bored.
On the production side it’s solid, and the production feels like it supports the chosen style nicely. The voice-track does have a bit of transistor-radio sound added, which adds to the punk’n’roll feel, but with trading off some authenticity in the frontmans voice. This becomes a bit more apparent when listening to the songs written in Swedish where the Gothenburg accent adds character and authenticity.
Switching to the second “album” (side B1 and B2), the Swedish tracks, the feeling of the record changes a bit. The ‘n’roll-style of the sound get to stand back a little bit in favor of more classic punkrock and thematically on the lyrical side these tracks takes a little bit different path as well. There are definitely straight on party songs on here as well, but there are more angry themes as compared to the English tracks. Police brutality, hate-speech, rich snobs, gang-violence and political lies are some of the themes chosen. It’s a bit darker both musically and lyrically. The songs about drinking and partying also gets a bit of a darker vibe here, I don’t know if it’s because of the chosen language but it’s generally a different and more mature feeling. It also feels that the theme isn’t weighing the band down here and there is some more variation between the songs.
I think it’s a smart choice to keep the more punk’n’roll themes in English and the more serious matters in Swedish. It’s seems easier and more natural to write the themes of more classic punk/rock’n’roll in English, in Swedish those kind of lyrics tends to become a bit lame. At the same time, the Swedish language brings some nice grit to the more serious statements. There’s a feeling that the band is not as hampered by the choice of genre here, and can play around with the format a bit more, as compared to the English part of the release.
It’s also fun to hear that the guest appearances that’s on here has had an impact on the sound of certain songs. The ones where members from Troublemakers come to help, Lördag and Jag Faller, really sounds like Troublemakers. Martin from De Lyckliga Kompisarna has such an unique voice in the Swedish punk scene and it’s nice to hear that the song Måndagsblues plays an homage to that band in the sound of the track as well.
Long review for a big release, and all in all Punk&Roll is an impressive feat by City Saints. Not all bands can produce two albums worth of songs keeping up this consistent quality throughout. There might be an initial feeling of some slight lack of variation in style and tempo on the English side, but after a few plays that feeling is replaced by awe of the very high lowest standard of the songs, not many fillers on that one. The Swedish part continues the same standard, and although not switching style completely and keeping the melodies and catchiness, has some more serious themes which becomes refreshing.
If you don’t bang your head, tap one or both of your feet or play some kind of air-instrument when listening to this you need to check your punkrock-pulse to see if your not completely dead inside. So much rock for the buck on this release.
Note: The album is released on the 25th of november and can be pre-ordered from Sunny Barstards Records webshop today.