Wednesday, 14 November 2012
The Sect "The voice of reason" Lp 1987
In the punk world, love songs are generally frowned upon, unless they are ironic or disgusting. Indeed, we seem content with listening to young blokes shouting against war, vivisection, nuclear weapons, the pigs, the millitary, the system and so on, and while there is nothing wrong with that, sometimes I think we all need lighter, cheesier music to warm our tiny little hearts. Saying this is not a call for going emo and dying your hair black but an invitation to listen to a proper pop-punk gem: The Sect.
Pop-punk is a bit of a dirty word and for good reason as the term has been used callously to talk about such horrificallu horrendous horrors as Sum 41, Blink 182 and other gringo nonsense. However, if you really think about it, many early British bands could be called pop-punk bands as they took the energy of punk-rock and blended it with British pop-rock tunefulness. After all, what are the Buzzcocks if not a pop-punk band? Couldn't the term fit later bands like Leatherface and Snuff too? And Chumba? The Lost Cherrees? Naked? The Britpop influence is undeniable but we never think of them as "pop-punk" bands. The Sect are a band whose recorded outputs go from 1986 to 1992, but I think they kept playing or at least reformed as I have seen rather recent videos of them gigging in Japan (apparently they are quite litterally big in Japan!).
"The voice of reason" is their first Lp, recorded just after the excellent "A free England" Ep that contains one of the best punk song I have ever listened to (for real). The cover is probably one of the ugliest to ever adorn a punk record. I really don't know what went through their head but don't let the imagery get in the way of the beauty of The Sect's music. Let's say that the cover is as ugly as the music is incredibly catchy. The more melodic sides of the punk sound embodied in The Buzzcocks, The Stiffs, Cock Sparrer, Satan's Rats or Last Stand and Ulster bands like Victim, The Outcasts or Rudi are good points of comparison, but The Sect's singer has an even more nasal voice. It is a bit of a Marmite deal on that level because if you don't like his vocal style, you are going to think he sounds like Brian bloody Molko. However, if you are into this very British singing style, The Sect is your new favourite band. Apart the from disappointingly instrumental song that ends the record, every song is an absolute hit, filled with the loveliest tunes and the catchiest chorus you can imagine. Sonically, The Sect were influenced by the first wave of punk-rock and must have been a breath of fresh and perfumed air whereas their peers were busy going faster and faster and being as gruffy and scruffy as possible. Well, this may not be entirely true as you also had bands like Dan, Joyce McKinney Experience or Indian Dream, but as tuneful as these may have been, they had still grown from a hardcore-punk background, and were very far from The Sect's simple, anthemic, old-school punk-rock. Lyric-wise, the band was not afraid of singing about broken hearts, the wonders of love and being rockers (in love). Cheesy maybe, but don't we all need some cheesiness in our lives?