Last month, Manchester pop-punkers Don Blake released their debut full length record, Pocket Universe, via Round Dog Records (the label managed by Fraser of the Murderburgers). They’ve previously released 2 EPs (compiled in 2013 release P.O.P music) and a split 7″ with Andrew Cream in 2014 – all since forming in late 2012. They’re currently making their debut Europe tour supporting Andrew Cream – you can find the band’s full upcoming tour dates below.
Although the album is a massive fourteen tracks long, there’s no sense of dull repetition or samey normality through the music, and with the majority of the tracks being scarcely a couple of minutes long, there’s a definite Joyce Manor-esque edge to the music – only with cleaner vocals. These vocals are one of the huge attractions to the band’s sound, clear cut and emotive in the most compelling way.
There’s a bigged up, fuzzed up edge to the riffs from the opening of the record with Can’t Turn It Off. Barely two minutes long, it’s a sound bite of pop-punk that sets the tone for the record, somehow pumping summer vibes into the music. The record continues to tackle all manner of themes from existentialism to relationships, providing brief snapshots before shutting the track off abruptly.
It’d be easy (but lengthy) to go through each of the fourteen tracks and say why and how each of the tracks is so addictive and fun, but think of a (marginally) more upbeat, pumped version of Modern Baseball and you’ve gathered the general gist of the style. Every track is fresh and light regardless of how heavy the lyrics dip to, and whilst there’s the standard pop-punk fun of snappy songs, four minute closer We Can Try is a track to better get your teeth into.
That said, my personal favourite off Pocket Universe comes from shortest Where Else Would I Wanna Be, hardly making it past the minute mark. Offhandedly endearing and fond, a sharp key change and lengthening words to make them scan – there’s something striking about the mismatched, collaged style of the track that makes it a real attention grabber.
Punchy and fun, Don Blake have created a record that’s bound to leave a mark on the scene, working life into an overpopulated and overused genre. Bravo.