Accents in music have always been a tricky subject; it's definitely a Marmite situation. Pop-punk came to town and everyone had an American accent. Then bands closer to home like Twin Atlantic or The Xcerts made the Scottish accent fashionable. Upon hearing Cleavers's Life Is Shit, you'd never guess they were Scottish, which isn't a bad thing. Modern punk is full of screams and barely an accent in sight. So when vocalist Dan Crombie shouts with an accent that sounds slightly American, it fits well with the music and reminds me a lot of the old school punk of the 70s and 80s, where the vocals were a bit 'put-on' to convey the aggression without screaming. And with the accent, there's room for melody, much like the vocals of Fucked Up.
The trio's 7" begins with Brian Johnson's Hat. It has all the trademarks of a punk song. Feedback, distorted bass and off-chords. The song takes a twist with a much more pop-punk feel and a pretty funky baseline. The song has a genuine fun vibe to it. It feels great to listen to punk that isn't just angry anger.
As the next track starts I feel like I've heard this riff before, even the "woah"s. But I can't quite put my finger on it. And it's a shame. I spent more time trying to remember a song that might not even exist than actually listening to This Rain Will Never End. But then, there's a magnificent breakdown, a solo, then the chorus. And I don't care where, or when, or even if I actually have heard something similar. I'm bouncing.
The final song of the record (not counting the bonus downloads) has the riffs, the funky baseline and the "woah"s again. The Posters Are Falling Off My Walls sounds really old school. And it's excellent. It's brilliant that Cleavers have toured Europe and have been played on "too many radio stations to recall," because punk like this isn't really made any more, and you only tend to find it when you stumble in to a covers gig.
Life Is Shit doesn't give the listener anything original, but it's fun, obviously full of passion and well written. Cleavers are a band that are going somewhere. And in a world of thrash-and-metal-ridden punk, it's a nice change of pace.
Life is Shit is out on the 1st December via Da Da Tunes.