What should the perfect punk album be? If I had to pick one quality, for me, it would be a friend. It will see you through good times and tough times in equal measure. You should be able to get drunk with it and bounce around until the wee small hours, and it should also be able to wake you up and set you off on your way to school, college or work.
In the spirit of that sentiment, allow me to introduce you to my new friend: Angry Itch’s Champanzee.
Angry Itch have pulled out a storming debut album. Is it perfect? Of course not! But is it a joyful, honest, clamber around the best of British grunge punk/pop-punk? Fuck me, yes!
If you are already mourning the end of summer (ignore this heatwave, it’s coming!) and the impending conclusion of the festival season, fear not, as this thirteen-track album will put a spring in your step and see you through the looming long autumnal nights. It’s pretty relentless and loops you up, down and round throughout its punchy thirty-two minutes.
First track Bus Surfing starts off with the most beautiful riff which on the first listen alone made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and pay attention. It’s a well-paced opener and allows Angry Itch to set their stall out early on. There’s a kind of wistfulness to it. Bursting with energy and power but with a slightly dreamy optimism too.
As if to make a point, the following two tracks Rise Again and I Hate You More get right in your face. The dual vocals are interesting. The contrast of the grizzly rough against the comparable sweetness grows on me with each listen. It’s a perfect tag team of chanty, angry riot-ness and had me gleefully capering around my flat.
The anthemic The Bristow Disco is a joyful, early-Green Day-esque two minutes of singalong merriment that provides a clue as to the potential of Angry Itch to become punk sweethearts. Frankly every album should have at least one track that drops the c-bomb and this banger only makes me want to see this band live as soon as is humanly possible.
Hit And Run is full of lusty grit and anger and Years Ago slows down the pace with its grungy melancholy. It’s a tad too grungy for my taste, but I’m sure that won’t put others off if that’s how you like your punk.
Heroes of Hate picks up the tempo with a straight-up pumping, super fast and clever beat. Yes there’s Batman references throughout and I’m sure they are making a really thoughtful political point, but it’s also a really fun tune. Go Figure It Out boasts another cute riff alongside fast and furious and fun drums, complimented by a tutorial in punk bass guitar.
There’s another change of pace and although Lie In The Snow sees the vocal struggling a bit against the sweet acoustic guitar, it’s a great tune and holds a lot of promise. It allows Angry Itch to expose their soft underbelly. There’s a big dollop of The King Blues in here and it leaves me feeling excited for all the potential they have.
There’s not one bad track on the album. Most have that thoroughly satisfying pattern of riff, hook, break and repeat, giving everything a beginning, middle and end. You don’t feel cheated out of the perfect song in any way, so you emerge from each track feeling satisfied and rest for the next dose.
So yes, Champanzee is my new bestie and Angry Itch should be a contender for the ‘Most Perfect Name For A Punk Band’ competition.
I like their old-school Green Day influences and there’s enough pop-punk to keep me happy but with great gritty, raw English accents which equally lend a kind of classic punk sound. I can see why they’ve been recent fixtures at Rebellion and how they can bridge that gap between classic and pop-punk. They are very, very British in that unapologetic, unreconstructed, bad teeth sense of the phrase. And they are fucking glorious. There’s even a track called Don’t Be A Dick. What could be less perfectly punk than that? Apart from being a bloody great song title it also has plenty of Oi Oi Oi. They also dabble a bit with political statements ‘You, Me, Us (Against The World). Perhaps not the most accomplished political statements but it’s honest and unpretentious and they have a whole heap of optimism too.
The best tracks are Bus Surfing, The Bristow Disco, Lie In The Snow and final track First Floor, which includes the welcoming chant “so grab your drink, come sit with me, let’s have another beer and enjoy good company”. These guys have nailed the punk sensibilities and I already feel like they are good mates of mine.
Angry Itch’s Champanzee has compassion, energy, some awesome tunes and a lot of personality. If you need a pick-me-up, put this album on. If you need a personal pep-talk, put this album on. And if you want to bounce, pogo, and lose your shit in any location of your choice, put this album on.