Racking up appearances at Download, Hevy Fest and as support for pop-punk heavyweights, Blink-182, it’s certainly true to say that 2012 has been a bumper year for Essex’s own The Jellycats. Their wholly British brand of ska punk, whilst reminiscent of a glut of trumpet toting companions, charms with a rather distinctive Cockney, cheeky chap flavour, although tackling some surprisingly weighty issues such as drug abuse and political turmoil, making ‘When I Do’ a release which is undeniably characteristic.
Structurally, there are few surprises here. Tracks such as opener ‘Hysteria’ and lead single ‘T.W.A.T.’ are all brass warblings, quirky vocal hooks and jangly chord stabs and, as the album progresses, we quickly come to realize that, dynamically, the band focus little on changing gear and upping the ante. This isn’t to say however that ‘When I Do’ is not enjoyable. Indeed, even with a slightly vanilla sense of songwriting, the release places great store in its infectiousness and jaunty, upbeat atmosphere, making ‘Your Friends’ and the album title-track real winners.
As previously mentioned, what’s most striking here is the potency of the subject matter covered, albeit it wrapped up in a danceably buoyant bubble. Songs such as ‘Crackhead’ and ‘British Poverty’ confront issues which of course have a great bearing on society today, yet with the rather bubblegum approach with which they are put across here, it’s somewhat difficult to say whether the tracks will see these topics become more easily digestable, or come across as unfairly superficial.
Yet, what’s not in question is that it is refreshingly welcome to see a outfit represent these problems in such a home grown and grass roots way. Musically, The Jellycats may not set the world alight, but with some tuneful numbers and a laudable social conscience, 2013 looks set to continue the band’s upwards trajectory.
Written by Tony Bliss