A few weeks after having my face melted by the superlative-worthy Duff Muffin comes this release from the sextet known as $up. The first thing you notice about the album is that it’s fast â€“ weasel-on-whiz fast in fact. $up’s particular brand of skacore is at times reminiscent of Capdown without the dub element or a heavier Bosstones, and it’s fair to say that they hit the target a lot more than they miss, as opener â€˜Psycho Bitch’ is a white-knuckle ripper firmly accentuating Shaun’s scratchy vocals and Will’s sax that succeeds due to its sheer energy.
It characterises the entire album, since the speed and abrasiveness of $up is their greatest boon. The easy melody of â€˜P.O.C’ feeds smoothly into a pretty insane chorus that is a weird hybrid of hardcore, poppy melody and nippy punk rock, and liberally sprinkled throughout the album are similar moments that are excellently posited in order to elicit the most energetic response. â€˜Dave!’ has a simple melody that is augmented no-end by the swift shift into an almost metallic breakdown, and the calm opening to â€˜Spank The Monkey’ serves only to act as a contrast to the harsh riffing that follows.
It’s genuinely heartening to hear an album such as this from a young band like $up, since it’s bursting with danceable moments that, while aren’t the most groundbreakingly innovative, certainly suggest that with a bit of development, the band could become something a bit special. It’s the combination of familiar skacore with a harsher metal edge that is most pleasing â€“ take â€˜Reprezent’ as an example of this, juxtaposed with â€˜Newee’ which is more traditional ska punk. An easy way of describing this is to say that just as King Prawn integrated a lot of Eastern minor-key melodies into their ska, $up are doing so with a heavier, more riff-based edge. It’s not the finished article yet, but it’s sure as fuck a lot more interesting to listen to than factory-produced pop punk or faux-pretentious emo.
Like I said, this isn’t a hugely accomplished album but it is an extremely promising one, as well as containing more than a few anthems that could become as familiar with some people as Ska Wars â€“ I reckon $up have definitely got the potential to be an important band for UK skacore, and this release only underlines that.