Back four years after their 2019 album ‘Your Church On My Bonfire’ the Scottish alt band PAWS (made up of Phillip Jon Taylor and Josh Swinney) are back with their new self-titled album.
To this writer’s ear, ‘PAWS’ offers fantastic guitar songwriting reminiscent of ‘00s pop-punk and late 80s / early ‘90s grunge. No bad thing, to be honest. Opening track ‘Helen Back’ (the title offering a funny play on words) revels in a poppy but driving guitar style that comes in after an eye-popping, almost industrial beat. Punchy, the song opens the album fantastically well and sets the tone for what’s to follow.
The third track on this album ‘Uncertain’ is actually my personal favourite, and continues the sonic themes of previous tracks, using those driving guitar lines accompanied by the catchy melody, this time supplied by the keyboard. It’s a real earworm that has never left my head since the first time I played it.
Other highlights include ‘Plans’, ‘Elemental Attributes’, ‘Starfuckers’ and ‘S.A.H.D.’, a song that in my opinion mirrors the style of PIXIES with soft vocals and driving guitars. It’s a sound that is a hallmark of the band, and if we’re to make the comparison, it would certainly be a favourable one.
Their closing track ‘Disenchanted’ I think closes the album perfectly, in my opinion acting a perfect darker bookend to ‘Helen Back’, evoking fond memories of Placebo. Their first album in four years, ‘PAWS’ is a triumph. More like this, please.
Words: Jack Wilkie