Play Dead: Skint
Out 26 March 2021 on digital service providers
After the delights of holidaying in Whitstable, and dodgy drugs on previous releases, the south London sixteen-year-olds known as Play Dead are Skint. Meanwhile, a flashback to the goth band of the same name, then an unexpected Sham 69 touchstone on the press release, cements my old fart credentials. Being conscious of the faintly ludicrous proposition of somebody who is more dead than playing commenting on their efforts, not enough to deter him.
The interest piqued in a band, with a combined age less than that of the average Vive Le Rocker, is compounded by a forced marriage of what sounds like the beginning of the Partisans Police Story and Britpop Blur. Hide and the self-explanatory Skint are a celebration of primal guitar and verse into the chorus before getting off home for tea, which only succeeds in the openers commitment to ‘ruin your day’, if you’re growing a beard in a gentrified café. Otherwise, these tales of teenagers with more energy than options, which has been done before, but not by them, offer the sort of vicarious and possibly rose coloured thrills that pass the ‘could be used to soundtrack anything exciting ever test’.
And from here it gets better as the affectionate if cautionary tale of bassist Ollie’s nan’s boyfriend, who ‘enjoys pies, pints and Coldplay’, takes some beating as a premise. Thankfully Shaun does him justice and turns his arrest for punching a man off his bike in Brixton into a choice chorus. Then, having made sure we have our lights on, it’s a short ride to Brockwell Park for a chance to top up on the booze. A trip down memory lane which sees internal organs as luxury items, while our man Ollie name-checks himself for ‘drinking Fosters’.
That the real-life park life is powered by the sort of irresponsibility and self-absorption that drives most great art is as refreshing as the lack of hand-wringing about it. Even bringing the EP to an end with The Drip, and what seems like a word of warning about chasing the sort of high that can literally leave a bad taste in the mouth, doesn’t leave the listener on a downer. The ability to do reflection and spread out over a marathon three minutes bodes well for the band’s future, particularly with lyrics that, like a Bob Vylan or Rum Lad, demonstrate the eye and bite of the sort of innate intelligence that wouldn’t benefit from any more costly education. Wonk Unit’s ever industrious Alex Johnson provides the knowledge as they wait for the chance to play this live.
For now, Play Dead’s reaction to the Gen Z curse, and being stuck inside a house they can never afford to move out of, is not the sort of aural joy ride that a coffee or a picnic would help. The rest of us can help to relieve the boredom by listening to Skint. Or Shaun will come round with his Coldplay CD.
Skint is available on preorder from Play Dead’s Bandcamp.