4 Past Midnight: ‘Life On The Inside’ – album review

4 Past Midnight - Life on the Inside album cover artwork

4 Past Midnight ‘Life On The Inside’ (STP Records)
CD / DL
Available now

Thought-provoking punk that hits the spot. 

The history of bands with singing drummers is a chequered one; Phil Collins. Say no more. The bloke out of The Eagles. Hmm, not bad. Karen carpenter. Yip, I’ll give you that one.

Having heard 4 Past Midnight several times before but never actually seen them live, I was a trifle surprised to find that they were that most unusual of things; a punk band with a singing drummer.

His name is Peter McCartney and if you can try and imagine a clone of Topper and Strummer you wouldn’t be far off. The voice is all gravel and bluesy minor key; the drumming is a powerful and metronomic amphetamine blur.

The rest of the band are no slouches either; the twin guitars of Fred Bowman and Tam 4PM are Ramones thrust via SLF heroics. Bass thunder is provided by Fred whose looping, soaring bass lines hold it all together.

Opening song Broken is typical of the 4 Past Midnight sound. Slashing guitars, cascading drum fills and McCartney’s howled anguish in a song about the trials of those seeking a new life free from torture and persecution. Simply top class.

I receive a lot of punk albums to review and a particular bug bear of mine is the over-reliance on clichés. Almost every punk band has a “soldier” song with lyrics seemingly lifted from Sven Hassel novels and an almost voyeuristic slant to the tales of limbs being blown off. I had my metaphoric reviewer helmet on when the lyrics of Nightmare hit my ears, but since it’s such a good song musically, I’m cutting 4PM some slack.

This is a minor quibble in an album that is as intelligent as it is entertaining. The lyrics are mostly literate and articulate and quite thought-provoking, particularly in the abuse-horror of Hollie which I actually found quite disturbing. There’s not many bands in the punk scene that would tackle something so sensitive and 4PM have given the subject a gravitas that does them immense credit.

 

It’s not all serious though; The Truth Is Out There, my favourite song on the album, is a gleeful romp about alien abduction, with Mulder and Scully samples providing some colour to the songs punk thrill.

Self-mythologizing is all very well; The Clash made a career out of it to some extent. 4 Past Midnight have their own series of songs on previous releases celebrating themselves and this is no different. Punk Rock Noise (4PM Crew Pt3) is a rollicking street punk anthem which is basically about, well, getting pissed. No bad thing, really.

Any Other Way is, I guess, 4PM’s mission statement. “Punk rock until the day I die, it’s a way of life to me” sings McCartney and who can argue with that?

4 Past Midnight tour dates:

June 22nd 2013 – The Black Bull, Gateshead
June 28th – Fife Punk Fest 3 – Windsor Hotel, Kirkcaldy
June 29th 2013 – Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh
July 13th 2013 – Sheffield Punks Picnic, Sheffield
Sept 7th – Trimpple Club, Morecombe
Sept 20th – Audio, Glasgow
Sept 21st 2013 – Classic Grand, Glasgow
Sept 29th – Star and garter, Manchester
Oct 4th 2013 – Border Terrier, Carlisle

All words by Joe Whyte. More from Joe on LTW here.

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