Angular raucous pop-punk from Bletchley trio Hired Muscle opens with Graham Coxon-like guitars on Erosion, a lively and strangely wistful number, Luke Webb gleefully hollering ‘I mispronounced your name, I did it on purpose, I’ll do it again!’ It’s followed by the rowdier Suits of the Square Mile, guitars rattling energetically, with Kevin Rowland’s vocal a bit more Art Brut hooting short barks in the background.
There’s an appropriately menacing rumble to Evil Genius, Rowland’s bass gurgling slinkily, whilst Webb provides punctuation marks of yelling alongside his shark-like guitar lines and Henry Myer’s drums splash around. The 30 second petit mort of Mclean’s Kitchen whips by, before the stuttering The Operator, with Rowland yelling; ‘You can’t keep me in the dark!’ over energetically repeated phrases, it’s short and stunted, almost frustratingly so.
Fake Awake fares better, shifting from a cod-rock intro into a jaunty swagger. Tractor Beam becomes a Grandaddy-like pop-punk number halfway through its running time, close in sound to their Excerpts from the Diary of Todd Zilla era. There’s a mathier sense of instrumentation to These Claws, which – unlike a lot of the tracks on this record – nestles into a little groove and hangs out for a while, that’s not to prize these later longer tracks over the earlier shorter ones, just a handful of the opening songs fly by and the listener is left playing catch-up.
Girl and Gun repeats a little melody with a sing-song type style, using the familiarity of this phrasing to launch into a delightfully cacophonous eruption of ever increasing noise, that drops into a head-nodding exclamation mark series of titular bellowing before coming to a close.
Closing this – 10 tracks in 20 minutes – record is the piano led tune Eroding, a nod to the album’s opener and a nice way to draw the curtain on this enjoyable and fast-paced record. Whilst some of the tracks do scoot by this record has an appeal that means you’ll probably just hit play again and pick up what you missed first time around. There’s nothing ground-breaking going on here, just good, fun punky tunes huddled together nicely.