The self-confessed “UK Bad Boys of Pop Punk”, more commonly known as Edinburgh’s Woes, have had a pretty steady rise of late.
With two EPs already under their belt, the four-piece switch their focus to their debut LP, trying their hand at crafting a more specific, signature sound, and in turn produce the largely ambitious ‘Awful Truth’, which, despite its downer title, is far from awful.
The band’s previous work has demonstrated their knack of writing huge hooks and some super catchy numbers, and that’s not changed here. ‘Fancy’ and ‘Suburbs’ are sun-soaked pop-punk anthems, while you can almost feel the summer heat dripping off later following title-track. Sure, it’s comfortable territory, but it’s also a sign that these guys are now capable of whipping out mammoth tracks with ultimate ease too.
Yet, where this album is taken up another level is on its blend of pop-punk with more left-field, unassociated genres like R&B and trap. The Don Broco-infused ‘Money Shoe’ is a prime example of the melodic, bouncy nature of the band’s signature style mixing with external beats and synth patterns, and it really works well.
In fact, this is commonplace on ‘Awful Truth’, and is generally executed and produced really nicely, like on ‘Gone Forever’, where pan-pipe-like synths and a mighty meaty riff come together in an emphatic crossover; or the trickling, dreamy tones of opener ‘Boy’ juxtaposed by gain-powered guitars; or even the snappy, unexpected R&B conclusion to ‘Fake Friends’.
Perhaps ‘Cross’ pushes the limits of this stylistic twist, taking the place of the typical ‘pop-punk ballad’ found on their counterparts’ albums and instead replaces it with an downbeat emo-trap piece, but even while being generously explorative, sounds genuinely refreshing to the ear.
That said, without a doubt, the best moments here are the hook-ridden choruses, with the sombre finale ‘Ugly’ and ‘Mess’ up there with the best on offer here. Even with the various amounts of experimenting going on across ‘Awful Truth’, the core pull of Woes‘ catchiness is not sacrificed when searching for their identity – and that’s key to the record’s success.
Often, ‘Awful Truth’ feels like an injection of genuine originality to the pop-punk sound that’s not really been heard before. Sure, a bit of fine-tuning wouldn’t go amiss, but if this is the first real taste of what we can expect the staple ‘Woes sound’ to be, then get excited. These guys can only get better.