Toiling away on the Brighton DIY scene for years before being snapped up by Big Scary Monsters, Gender Roles have taken their sweet time in getting to debut album time. A testament to what can happen when a band are given the time and space to grow and develop away from the mainstream, ‘Prang’ is an exciting blast through the world of a group well overdue this moment of recognition.
Any fear that label life may have smoothed away the edges are dismissed as soon as opener ‘You Look Like Death’ erupts into a savage mosh-pit moment. From there, ‘Prang’ surges into life with a procession of fast-paced, frenetic and frenzied riffs that still manages to be good-natured even when raging at the pain of losing someone. Utilising the classic Pixies quiet-loud dynamic, themes of self-doubt and anxiety are wrapped up in a fearsome barrage of guitars and Tom Bennett’s distinctive rasping vocals. Whether it is the strife of ‘If This Is Your War’, or the frailty of ‘Ickie’, this is a band dealing with the here-and-now in a way more effective than they’ve shown before. And through it all, they’ve upgraded their firepower too.
Gender Roles were never short of a riff or two, but on ‘Prang’ they’ve levelled up. Adding a subtle edge to the grunge foundations, track after track hits home. And as ‘Bubble’ slams to a devastating finale, it brings a fine ending to a debut that shows that the early promise is starting to be realised. A blast of fun from start to finish, ‘Prang’ is hopefully only the beginning.