written by Chris Familton
Noisy guitar pop seems to be everywhere at the moment, whether it is stained with garage rock, shoegaze or 90s indie there is a strong melodic vein running through it – more pop and less rock in the traditional posturing sense. Locals Step-Panther have been impressing on the live circuit and now they’ve successfully translated their songs to the recorded form on their self-titled debut.
There is a sense of freedom in the band’s music as they hop nervously between styles. The album opens with Never Again, a classic punk dispatch that sounds like skinny kids playing Jesus Lizard without the psychological disturbance. Rock and Roll Alone is a 60s drenched take on rock n roll of the type that preceded The Ramones and they play it fairly straight down the line. The way Step-Panther sound like they’re not trying hard belies the strongly edited craft they bring to their songs. There is very little diversion into noise for noise sake (other than the bratty petulance of Scorpions and the throwaway closing track) as they keep their eyes on the pop prize at all times.
At a glance some may accuse the band of aping an American sound yet there are some strong homegrown references like the Bluebottle Kiss indie angles of Ferrari and the Galactic Hurricane that could easily have a place on a Further album. The album is over in half an hour, something of a trend alongside other brief recent releases and as they approach the end they give us one of the album’s gems in Sentimental Town, a classic sounding track that conjures up images of Springsteen jamming with Television at the feet of Phil Spector. It’s a shame the trio didn’t include the song Jimmy on the album as it would have sat perfectly on it and strengthened the record even more. Regardless this is a catchy and impressive debut from Step-Panther.
this review first appeared in The Drum Media