The four members of the band Problem Patterns
Credit: Ellen Blair

Problem Patterns – Blouse Club (Alcopop! Records)

Belfast’s Problem Patterns release their debut album on Alcopop! Records on 27 October, and it’s an utter thrill from start to finish. Indeed it does feel like Blouse Club should be listened to in order, and whenever put on this reviewer could not draw herself away, listening all the way through each time.

Opener ‘Y.A.W‘ is a smart, assured, static fuelled statement of intent. Thought-provoking, direct and to be frank, addictive. I wanted to listen to more of Blouse Club based on it’s very first track. The lyrics were so obvious and relevant, yet have they even been said before? Spat out with disdain it was immediately clear this album is going to be something special.
“She shouldn’t have to be your sister/
She shouldn’t have to be your mother/
Your relationship should not define/
How much you should respect her”

The anger is so palpable on ‘Big Shouty’ with its “Don’t put me in my place” lyric on repeat and literally screamed out. With three of the tracks on Blouse Club sitting at under three minutes this is punk rock, and at its finest I might add. ‘Advertising Services’ is arguably the most directly political track on the album. Calling out inequality and its perpetuation by fat cats and the powers that be:
“Profit is valued more than dealing with injustice/
The rich rake in billions – hoarding the wealth”

The guitar riffs are reminiscent of The Clash yet here the pace is a little slower, focusing more on the lyrics which sit at the forefront such is their importance. The start of ‘A History of Bad Men Part II’, with its “everybody good to go? ok” check-in soon progresses into something much darker. And its an interesting juxtaposition. It’s a slow, heavy, doom laden track, menacing in its rebuttal of the lack of respect, in other words a perfect atmosphere.

The pace lifts again on ‘Lesbo 3000‘ which rattles along at speed. It rebels against the behaviour of those who choose to shout abuse at those who are different. ‘Lesbo 3000‘ is a verbal fightback against the ignorance of others, and goodness it’s effective. Again the lyrics hit the mark:
“Nothing in your jeans
can change me
there is no “magic cure”
because it’s not a fucking disease.”

‘Pity Bra’ is the description of an experience at a Sleater-Kinney gig. There is something endearing about sharing this story – no spoiler alerts here, you’ll have to listen for yourself. It’s back to business on ‘Who Do We Not Save’. What an explosion of disgust at the powers that be and their selfish ways:
“We’re one or two paychecks away
While they decide who they won’t save/
You and I are collateral damage/
We are all just collateral damage”

Poverty Tourist’ almost didn’t make the cut for the album. It all fell into place during the final writing session before recording the album. Such is the quality of the song-writing and musicianship of Beverley Boal, Bethany Crooks, Ciara King and Alanah Smith. And intriguing to learn that Problem Patterns swop roles and instruments. They do not have a traditional lead singer as such, rather preferring to give everyone the opportunity to have a voice. ‘Letter of Resignation‘ is a highlight, and not just because of the chorus of: “You can’t fire me, I’m leaving”. It’s opening mantra strikes a chord. The tight guitars and drums travel at pace, and there is a positivity and empowerment embraced within this track.

Picture of Health’ opens with screeching guitars before the thunderous drums kick in. Here Problem Patterns confront the issue of control over our bodies. Self-care is paramount and this is passionately addressed. On ‘TERFs Out’ Problem Patterns object to Trans exclusionary radical feminists who do not believe that Trans women are legitimately women. Again its the lyrics that make the point so clearly, so concisely and delivered with a heartfelt passion:
Standing with your oppressors will not make you more free/
You can’t tear down who built up our community.”

Domestic Bliss’ – what an end to Blouse Club! A full on guttural assault on the senses. These are the lyrics for the whole track but what a delivery. The vocals hit hard and that pounding bass ensures the listen is rooted. Hardcore in its vibe, and hard-hitting with its theme. Not every track has to be packed with lyrics to get its message across. And is that a washing-machine finishing its cycle as the outro?
“Domestic bliss
Who’s doing the dishes
Clean the house
Spread the filth.

Problem Patterns share the following on their creative process:
“We make music for ourselves and each other first. We’re trying to build a positive space from subjects that can otherwise be very difficult to face. We want to bring some hope and joy to those who may need it the most. We want to strike fear into those who seek to harm the vulnerable. We want to annoy anyone who thinks we aren’t good enough. At the end of the day, we are doing this for ourselves, but we are happy to involve anyone who wants to fight the good fight.”
With Blouse Club they have achieved this, bringing an album that shakes at its very core, unleashing its fury against social injustice, corruption and discrimination. Personal and opiniated, and fitfully the music matches the themes hence the ferocious soundscapes. One of the albums of the year to date.

For more information on Problem Patterns please check out their facebook and instagram.



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