‘Poor Old Christopher Robin’ tied up 2012’s debut LP release in a way that made it hard to not be excited for this – Youth Culture Forever tends to live up to the expectations that these punk-rock maestros set for themselves with Cokefloat.
Philip Taylor’s writing is never shallow or pretentious – he’s as narcissistic, entertaining and bare as you’ll remember.
It’s not adolescent, and there’s no doubt that this a mature set of songs for a more expansive follow-up.
He just has the perfect delivery of the same attitude that pop-punk fans grew up listening to – melodramatic (“My heart is not a fucking toy!”), not petty but just kind of pissed off… often romantically, but these songs are also great at having a go at everything; life in general.
Taylor is joined by Josh Swinney and Matthew Scott and the band holds up on their incredible, versatile range while keeping songs short, catchy and individual within their alt-rock grounding.
PAWS are a three-piece that can achieve a great level of calm or a full-blown punk rock freakout in equal measure and they pull either off remarkably well.
There is more attention paid to the tone of rolling guitar chords in slow sections and the crunching power chords that frame the more energetic sections than you would expect – it’s punk in spirit but not in performance.
It’s difficult not to be impressed by Youth Culture Forever.
PAWS are great at developing short little anthems within each song with Taylor’s lyrics underpinned by light catchy riffs.
They’re at their best in these happier, more nostalgic (verging on melancholy) moments – the first single ‘Tounges’ is a good example.
This album makes the most of the higher production value – listen to the slow, almost orchestral section on ‘Alone’, a strong point on the album in proving that they’re more than a garage band.
In fact, listen to the whole album.
Look, listen to each album back to back – Youth Culture Forever isn’t an entirely new sound, it’s the next step after Cokefloat with these guys developing their sound; and Taylor still has more to lament.
PAWS are just getting started on their own unique brand of infectious alt-rock with a punk spirit. YCF
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Words: Tom Deering