The Girl with the Red Balloon – Shut Up River (reviewed by Dave Franklin)


As the spoken word intro and titular track gentle lays out some Kerouac-ian vibes, philosophical musings mixed with political overtones to paint a stark dystopian image, you are already thinking, were indeed “do we go from here?” It’s the sort of beginning which sets up progressive rock albums or conscious jazz odyssey’s…what I didn’t expect was a full-on punk salvo. But that is what I got!

What follows is an incendiary blast of punk, very much tipping its hat to the old-school sound, often landing somewhere between quintessentially American late 80’s hardcore and the third wave of British punk from which it, in no small part, found inspiration.

For the most part, we are greeted with fist-in-the-air, short, sharp and sonically shocking street anthems, low-slung riffs driving batteries of beats and that trademark snotty, world-weary vocal delivery. Okay, we might have heard this sort of thing before but that is not really the point. The point is that this is another generation looking for an energetic outlet for their woes and worries, angst and anger and finding it in punk music.

But this isn’t just another spin around the punk rock block either and there are plenty of reasons to love what Shut Up River are doing here. Problems mixes driven aggression with more considered music lulls and State shows that they have more than one gear, the song seemingly mixing mutant blues with metal moves whilst still falling very much in punk’s traditional sonic arena.

Cracks Forming has a wonderful pop melody buried deep within it, whilst never lowering themselves to taking that same cheap-shot that became pop-punk, thanks to nursery rhyme vocal interludes and the white-hot, garage-rock guitar attacks.

There is no point trying to re-invent punk, it is what it is. All each successive generation can do is re-embrace it and make it relevant for themselves, revel in its single-minded belligerence and turn it into gutter-anthems for a new generation. And that is exactly what Shut Up River is doing here.

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