ALBUM REVIEW: Interrobang‽ – Interrobang‽ | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Much of the best punk rock gets its power from a year zero worldview and a keenly articulated rage; much of the worst can be found clogging up the stages of Rebellion Festival, wearing a tatty Exploited t-shirt and churning out the same tired slogans thirty years on. This doesn’t leave much room for thoughtful, emotive reflections on what it is to grow old, and how it feels to be a middle aged revolutionary with a fire in your belly that no amount of Gaviscon can ease. That’s why we need Interrobang‽

Interrobang‽ – Dunst, Griff, Harry – have been in other bands that you’ll have heard of. That doesn’t matter. Interrobang‽ matter. Hugely.

This is punk rock as sharp, snappy, sub three-minute bursts of energy (think Fugazi, Wire, The Jam), and Interrobang‽ are men of a certain age, sharp-suited and determined, the very epitome of clean living under difficult circumstances. Harry’s drumming throughout is economical and effective and knows how to play with space and pauses while Griff’s looped and layered guitars are taut and angular, choppy and urgent. And over this, delivered in Dunst’s unmistakeable speech-song style, are lyrics that may be unique: here’s a man in his fifties, whose passport may well list ‘former pop star’ as his occupation, having a ‘Once In A Lifetime’ crisis and sharing it with us in a painfully honest and honestly painful fashion.

My god, how did he get here?

All fourteen songs are a million miles away from standard lyrical fare in any genre, as Dunst ruminates on age and ill health and fear and rebellion. A self-proclaimed ‘grumpy curmudgeon in a state of high dudgeon’, he considers his relationship with his once-hated hometown (Billingham) and the passing of his father (the deeply affecting Do You Remember), whilst the fantastically Fugazi-esque Are You Ready People (with Griff giving good Piciotto to Dunst’s Mackay) is a call to arms, a rejection of compromise and ‘ersatz rebellion’ and a fierce re-statement of his belief in revolution. He’s private browsing middle age concerns on Asking For A Friend, considering his mortality on the propulsive Based On A True Story and paying tribute to the remarkable Drako Zarhazar on the joyous, moving Love It All.

I can’t remember the last time I heard an album that sounded so much like a frank conversation with a trusted friend about the stuff people are usually too wary of talking about or confronting. All this set to amphetamine-twitch punk rock. What Interrobang‽ have done here is powerful and uplifting and it makes you want to punch the air and reach out to your friends, and the world is a better place for having someone in it who’s prepared to be this fucking honest.

‘Unrest is progress, contentment death’. Hallelujah, brother.

 

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