Tuskens – ‘Almost Over’ EP (Special Edition).
Bristol Pop-Punk. Get ready for some melodies.
Bristol is, and always has been, a microcosm for the alternative. All genres find footing at the City’s many venues – Punk and its various bed fellows, children and distant cousins are no different. Tuskens are counted within this number.
Best described as the mid-to-fast and ‘Rockier’ side of the genre, Tuskens bring something a bit different to the table, while still adhering to the blueprint so to speak. They are equally able to churn out a fast, ‘classic’ sing-a-long track as they are a slower paced song to add some variety to their sound without losing the grab of the hooks.
With two EPs now safely under their belt and a list of spots on shows, they are certainly working hard. Their first EP was released for free last year and boats six tracks of hooks and melodies focusing on themes such as age realisation, the irritant of hindsight, heartache and getting over such.
Pop-Punk gets a lot of flak for its lyrical themes as much of it is done badly. Tuskens however, have taken the Pop-Punk sound and made it theirs, as any band should. Now, as much as that is a very general, sweeping statement in Punk and its sub genres this is vital for any band.
1. ‘Lost’ – Track one, gets right to it with the first line. ‘I’ll tell you about, how I’ve been baby – I’ve been walking around, watching the streets and side walks. They don’t have much to say.’ Tuskens’ vocalist James Pope has a point. Walking to clear you’re head, a busy street, a lonely city at stupid o’clock in the morning can sometimes only push you to look for answers, to reminisce on the very thing you’re wounded from and are trying to push out. Musically, it’s a medium paced track with a decent driving rhythm which leads into the verses.
The vocals are shown to their seat by a riff that in leads in nicely to a classic punky bass line; before the lead guitar picks up again for a refreshing Pop-Punk chug. The guitar work on this EP, in comparison to its predecessor, has more focus on melodies and hooks and the chorus of this song is a good example. The brief instrumental breaks between verses and bouts of the chorus add to the effectiveness of the hooks. Lyrically the song is honest, Pope’s vocals haven’t largely changed but have definitely improved.
‘Good things come to those who wait, guess I’m born to wait…’
2. ‘Better Off’ – The Pop–Punk is back, an example of Tuskens ability to chop and change pace without ruining the structure of the song. They’re almost reminiscent of The Wonder Years.
The soaring guitars and low bass are back with an annoyingly catchy chorus. It’s not annoying in a negative way, but after my first listen it was stuck there for hours… Pop-Punk 1 – 0 Me. Anyway, on the whole it’s a faster song laden with hooks and melodies, showing the development of the band’s sound. The second set of verses before the second chorus has a sort of 90’s second wave feel to it – think mid career New Found Glory.
The guitar work in final part of the song was a nice surprise, it is certainly a song you can imagine sped up. As welcome as that would be, it isn’t needed. Burn all your chances but – ‘… I’ve been told the grass greener, I’ve been told the air is clearer and this place brings happy thoughts’.
3. ‘I Wish I Never’ – Its hard to say why but this song reminds me of Yellowcard, perhaps the bands more upbeat poppier songs that run with deeper meaning. Even if it does mention the British weather, you still get a feel of the Pop-Punk veterans. The song is an ode to someone and regret over actions past, Pope thinks back to his position a year ago and how the persistent thinking has prevented sleep and the ability to moving on. We have all wronged loved ones or those we have been emotionally tied to, so this song will relate to just about anyone at some point.
Again, it is a Pop-Punk song that could have been done badly, a whiny nasal ‘SORRYYYYYYYYYYYYYY’ that drags on. But as it happens, once again… it isn’t. Upbeat and bound to get people bobbing around; ‘I Wish I Never’ is a testament to the better guitar work of this EP. ‘Catchy’ is an understatement, as with the rest of the EP, it has the balance of slower and faster tempos throughout.
4. ‘Always There’ – If you are able to get hold the special edition of ‘Almost Over’ then you get a fourth track. A fourth track that may surprise you as it did me. I wasn’t expecting this at all. ‘Always There’ is slow and vocal led ballad with more use of the bands backing vocals alongside a soft guitar and bass.
Lyrically, it’s a sad, heartfelt song that manages come across well enough to be worth its ‘bonus track’ status. It captures its subject well and I’m not ashamed to say is something that I, and I know many of us, have been through in recent years. Basically, it’s not sappy bullshit. One of the reasons why it is such a nice surprise is that it shows off Pope’s vocals in their entirety. Pop-Punk being a primarily North American wing of the broad Punk umbrella, vocals, no matter where they originate are often Americanised.
With Tuskens you don’t get this quite as much, as the English accents come through in an odd way to create a fairly unique and likeable vocal style. I don’t have a problem with Pop-Punk vocals but the the overtly Americanised style emulated by some British bands rarely suits. This final track this is something of a first for the band and isn’t half bad.
We can’t wait to hear more from Bristol’s Tuskens. So to sign off, MF gives Almost Over – 8/10.
- Find the band on Facebook and Twitter.
- The first EP can be found on bandcamp for ‘FREE/Name Your Price’ .
- Almost Over can be found on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify and their Youtube Channel.
- For merch, head to their BigCartel.