Punchdrunk noise-pop shout-alongs with disarming vulnerability
“She wasn’t only just my mother,” Phillip Taylor slurs over rickety, distorted guitar in the opening seconds of PAWS’ Cokefloat!, continuing, “She was my friend, a good friend.” As an introduction to the Glasgow trio’s rowdily impressive debut album, it could hardly be more fitting, showing off both the band’s throwback slacker-rock style and Taylor’s blunt, decidedly un-macho lyrics. But on this 13-track, 42-minute set, what separates PAWS from so many other garage-bound pop-punks printing out Pavement and Sonic Youth guitar tabs is how expertly – and emotively – they assail a relatively wide range of song types. “Sore Tummy” and “Miss American Bookworm” put bubblegum melodies beneath heavily scuzzed noise-pop and throat-rending screams, like early Foo Fighters but more awkward and relatable. While “Get Bent” comes across as a post-Girls acoustic kiss-off to a distant father, the stylishly chiming “Pony” steps back to critique parent-funded underground scenesters. Best of all is mid-tempo anthem “Homecoming,” which begins as a bully-baiting comeuppance but morphs into a self-actualizing mission statement recalling recent European tour-mates Japandroids: “Thanks for the punches of encouragement/ I’ve turned my world into sing-alongs.” Shout-alongs, even – punchdrunk and easy to love.