Opening with the upbeat brain hater “Can’t turn it off”, Don Blake’s debut album Pocket Universe lets us know immediately what’s up. The theme of this record is recovery and self-betterment in the face of depression and the troubles that people all face. It’s nicely in the groove between pop and punk rock, exactly the way they use to make ‘em in the mid-nineties.
This fusion of the best of both worlds is perfectly illustrated in the second track, “Is it Fixed?” where we are told, “People said you’re okay, but then people never listen!” From which we are treated to an extremely close to home tale of mental illness and its painful consequences.
Standout tracks include the jumpy hurt-a-long anthem of (certainly my) next summer “Things You Should Have Done And Should Have Said”, the MTX-level boredom anthem “Where Else Would I Wanna Be” and the frankly brilliant Murderburgers-esque slice of pop punk perfection that is “Ticking Boxes”.
The album sounds fantastic with everything coming through really clear. Thankfully nothing is overpowering the voices on the record! The vocals are a true delight throughout, ranging from a velvety version of Giles from Great Cynics to a strange northern English take on Roddy from Idlewild back when they were vital and amazing. The record is choc full of well-crafted pop punk genius that stands up against any angsty pop-punk this side of “…Anywhere but here”.
Out now on Round Dog Records/Bloated Kat Records.
– Andy Blyth