By Jase Walker
Over the last year or so, Puppy have been a group that has repeatedly come up either in news articles I’ve been reading, what with singles announcements, tour announcements (and their subsequent rescheduling) and most recently their latest album; ‘Pure Evil’.
The three-piece, from London in good old Blighty, label themselves in their Facebook’s About section as simply “Heavy Metal”, which after checking this album out and it being my first introduction to Puppy in lieu of catching them on the Manchester stop of their current tour, seems to undersell the pretty varied sound they have on ‘Pure Evil’.
Prior to the album being released, Puppy notably did a similar release cycle to some of the other bands I’ve reviewed recently in the way that the singles released in the run-up to ‘Pure Evil’ built themselves eventually into a small set of EPs. This approach is quite novel and indicative of a change in music consumption in recent years but also a pretty clever idea of building up hype and a ‘core’ of songs which are then dispersed throughout the main album, this in turn gives a better reason to listen through the album in it’s entirety for a lot of people.
‘Pure Evil’ clocks in at 13 tracks, mostly with tracks floating around the two- to three-minute mark. I’m normally a prog listener myself so this is most definitely a bit of a shorter song length in comparison to what I’m used to these days.
After a brief intro track from ‘Shining Star’, we’re quickly onto ‘The Kiss’ which reminds me quite a lot of bands like Filter or Smashing Pumpkins, riffy with a juxtaposed drone behind it and that odd vocal register that Billy Corgan is pretty identifiable by.
Before you can even blink we’re already smashing into ‘My Offer’ which feels a bit more Americana, almost Offspring like, Puppy making it immediately clear that they know how to write a quick, punchy song but not forgetting to make it memorable with a bloody tasty riff.
‘Wasted Little Heart’ changing gears a bit and slowing us down and man, that chorus with the backing vocals is some damn catchy stuff but also with a bridge that sounds like Megadeth? Mental. I feel like this album already is quick enough to give a bit more of a ‘blow by blow’ account since each song has a real identity to it so that’s exactly what i’ll be doing!
‘Hear My Word’ evokes the spirit of Nirvana as a short track that leads into ‘Spellbound’ again with another jump to something that sounds closer to Queens Of The Stone Age with it’s melancholy harmonised vocals and stoner rock styled thumping rhythm. We’re barely past the halfway point here and the variety of what Puppy’s shown off here is bonkers.
‘Dear John’ kicks off with some arpeggio work that reminds me a lot of Metallica’s ‘One’, sombre and drenched in reverb, but this acts as a bridge over to ‘…And Watched It Glow’, switching back to the Smashing Pumpkins styled riffage. I feel like when I see this played live, this will be one of those tracks that’ll have people singing back every line of this loud enough to drown the band out.
‘Holy Water’ has a riff that weirdly reminds me a bit of Bloodhound Gang’s ‘Fire Water Burn’ with it’s fuzzy mids laden downstrokes. Immediately after, ‘Sacrifice’ kicks in with a grunge soaked riff, sounding very Nirvana right here, this stands out as one of my favourites on this album so far! That solo is bloody fantastic too, what a banger of a song.
In the home stretch of the album, ‘Angel’, which was the first single to be released in the run up to the album and you can see why, it’s a fantastically strong song that seems to draw on some strong Weezer elements. It’s a real dreamy sounding song which heavily uses backing vocals to add layering to great effect.
The penultimate track, ‘Shame’ we get treated to some big, fat, overdriven bass guitar driven groove. This is the sort of chunky playing I love getting my teeth into, it’s great hearing the Bass guitar being used right at the front of a song and used right too. Not only that but the layering of dreamy, haunting backing vocals adds so much to the song as well.
And finally, to play out the album is ‘Glacial’ opening with a vocal line of “this is the end” in a nod to some subtle irony that it’s the last song on the album. Returning back to the Smashing Pumpkins style of songwriting but with some noticeable tasty bass playing as well.
This album has been a pretty big surprise for me start to finish. I’m really excited to see how these songs come across live and I think ‘Pure Evil’ does an amazing job of showcasing so many different influences and styles. Puppy more or less came out of nowhere for me, but I’m glad I happened across them. A really solid album and a pleasure to get acquainted with.
- ‘Pure Evil’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.
- The tour continues in Leeds tonight (Wednesday 25 May) and then pulls into Manchester, Oxford, Southampton and Bristol, finishing in London on Tuesday (31 May). Puppy also play Download (10-12 June), the Outbreak festival (24-26 June) and 2000Trees (6-10 July).
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