I'll start with a confession (very topical). I didn't really know much about Miss The Occupier. The name was familiar but I'm not 100% sure why. Age doesn't come alone it seems. Regardless of all that, these guys latest offering, Keeping Company With Wolves, is my first album after a break of a few months. As with most bands that are new to me, there's an element of nerves when I listen. Within about ten seconds of this album, I knew it was all going to be fine. There's a decidely fat bassline rumbling away before a self assured vocal comes in from Roz Davies that literally swaggers. Some crisp drumming underpins the song ('Keeping Company With Wolves' - neglected to mention that). The grimey guitar gives the song a bit of depth and all in all it's a cracking opener.
'Smoke + Mirrors' follows the lead of the opener with a solid bass guitar. Overall it's a little more contained that the first track. The swagger and confidence is here in abundance though. A synth in the background adds a new dimension, while that rhythm section push the song forward. As the song progesses we get some visceral screams from the lead vocals that make my throat hurt in sympathy. Where the first couple of tracks are almost dirty sounding in terms of production, 'Song For the Miserable' is somewhat ironically more upbeat. The guitar sounds lovely and jangly, while the drums and bass keep the tempo high. The vocal is gentler also and overall there's more pop than punk in this track. There's a catchy hook on the chorus and I found myself nodding along and tapping my feet, which while not something you really want to see, is a good sign in terms of my enjoyment.
'Your Fairytales' starts with a quick drumbeat and another killer bass. A keen guitar note joins in with the vocal before the song picks up on the chorus lifts the song, before dropping off again on verses. The rhythm section ensure a good tempo though and the synth adds depth underneath. The lyrics are slightly sinister though, which is also pretty good. ('killer in the bedroom wondering when you're gonna get home/fingering all your underwear/talking on your phone" - creepy!) The structure of the song is slightly different to, with the bass dropping out for a spell, leaving a guitar plucking out a discordant note. The impact when the bass comes back in is pretty good though and it all works well. We're back on poppier ground with 'When Engines Won't Start'. The tempo is excellent, with a really catchy vocal. The drums skip along at a good pace, while the bass rumbles away happily. There's a pretty good guitar part over the top of the track too, which stops very abruptly.
Penultimate song 'Rapture' keeps the tempo high, but feels a little more fractured than some of the other tracks. This one goes for a big guitar sound, battering you with a wall of sound on the chorus, before dropping back into choppy snatches of drums, bass and guitar. The synth is more prominent on the chorus too, adding to the wall of sound. Towards the end of the song the bass ramps up a little, creating a nice meaty sound while the guitar gets more urgent. Closer 'Wish me Luck' has a really nice guitar and synth from the outset, over rapid drums and a more subtle bass. The chorus changes the feel and tempo of the song slightly, but it retains the feel of being more punk than pop with the disjointed tempo. It's a good closing to what has been an enjoyable album.
There were times when I felt there were glimpses of Sonic Youth or maybe Elastica, but during it's poppier moments there were shades of Kid Canaveral. These are mere signposts I used in my own mind though and should not be treated as anything else. Regardless, when Miss The Occupier play the more punk oriented songs they're very good. When they head down the pop street they are also very good. To sumarise, Keeping Company With Wolves is very good. Check below for some links and pick yourself up a copy.