Depending on how you view such things punk is either one of two things. Either it was a time and a place, a musical event that can be marked with a cross on the timeline of musical history, something that is now only accessed by the shockwaves it set in motion. Or it is an attitude, an approach, a swagger, perhaps even, if it isn’t riding the hyperbole too hard to make such a statement, a way of life.
If it is the latter, and this is the side of things that I come down on, then Smalltown Tigersare punk as fuck! ‘Scuse the language. Anyone who cuts their teeth playing Ramones songs at squat gigs, opened for the likes of Baby Shakes and The Menstrual Cramps and who sounds like The Ramones jamming with The B52’s whilst working as Joan Jett’s pick-up band, has nothing left to prove in those stakes.
What is great for a band so far removed, chronologically speaking that is, from the initial punk spark is that they carry all of the necessary influences which poured into the generic crucible in the first place, the New York version at least. Girl is that 60’s girl group sound turned from sugar and spice and all things nice into riffs and wails and puppy-dogs’ tails, Darling Please is the ghost of The Runaways strutting their stuff and the title track and opening salvo is the perfect reminder that punk was just the bastard offspring of rock and pop, the result of a drunken dalliance in a midnight back alley somewhere on the Lower East Side, an ill-judged fumble which both parties constantly try to deny ever happened.
I’m not going to be as dramatic as to say that Smalltown Tigers are re-inventing punk, but they are reminding us of where it came from. Forget year zero, Five Things is the sound of the few years prior to that, before there was a plan, if there was ever a plan, before there was a name for this new noise, before there was any semblance of a scene. No, it doesn’t reinvent punk but it does help to steer it back on to its original course bit, the one it was on before the identikit mohican and bondage trouser clan took over.
Or for the more mathematical amongst you here is the above review expressed as a formula.
3 punks + 4 Chords + (5 Things / 8 songs) = One great album.