Saturday, 7 March 2015

Review: Sweatshop Boys - Always Polite, Never Happy (2015)

   Sweatshop Boys are beginning to become more and more important in the Israeli punk scene and hopefully in the punk world in general. Consisting mostly of Haifa boys including Ofri (ex-Friday Night Sissy Fight/Barren Hope), Dean (ex-Friday Night Sissy Fight) and Itai (The Orions, The Backliners, Achim Zabari, Kuskus Records), the band also includes singing drummer and powerhouse that is Nadav (Mondo Gecko, Spit, Shifka Chiefs, Brutal Assault, if I've left something out!)
   Although not what everyone may consider "punk rock", the band do know how to write catchy as hell songs about things that matter to them. Their first album, The Great Depression, really helped demonstrate the Sweatshop Boys sound and this latest EP very much continues to do the same.  All four songs are songs I recognise from shows because they are just so damn memorable.
  The EP starts off with No Pity In The City, a pogotastic anthem about moving to a big city but with no real changes. Second track, Special Mood, takes the pace down a bit with an almost 60s beat-music era jangly pop sound, equipped with organ solo and a rhythm that will have you toe-tapping away. Try Hard, again on a bit of a 60s tip but punkier, is a simple and to the point song about "wannabe scene queens" with its intoxicating "You're not special at all Ahhhh" refrain. The funny thing about writing songs of this topic is that it could be describing people who actually come to your shows. Therefore, it is remarkably ironic when you see someone at their show who has forced themselves to learn the lyrics and stand right at the front, making sure to be heard. I think that's what I love about it, whether intentional or not. Last track, Slow Dive, leans off the social commentary a bit and instead focuses on a positive message about taking life easy. The band informs us that "Sometimes you got to let it go" and instruct us to "go with the flow." Good advice, there, my friends! All songs have this fun vibe about them, almost definitely due to how everyone in the band gets a chance to sing and sing together, making everything sound more anthemic. 

   I kind of remember somewhere near the start of the band's career that I didn't really pay all that much attention to them. I wasn't really keen on the Pet Shop Boys influenced name (I used to like the Pet Shop Boys) and I found it all a bit too "jingle jangly", for want of a term. Whether the band itself has improved or my musical tastes have broadened, this new EP is a beautiful record and I hope to hear another full length later on in the year full of more catchy twist-inducing tunes.    

  Sweatshop Boys play a free show tomorrow night, Sunday 8th March, at BuXa in Tel Aviv.

  For any readers over in mainland Europe or who will be there in the next month or so, you can catch Sweatshop Boys on tour across France and Germany:

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