As far as I can tell, about six people in the UK own this album. Hardly surprising, since the most common pressing of the CD is on Shredder Records and the only other thing I’ve ever seen on that label is another Parasites disc.
This follows the ‘Pair’ album, which saw the Parasites not so much of a band any more, but Dave Parasite (renaming himself Nikki) being pretty much a one man showcase flying under the Parasites name. [To confuse matters, ‘Pair’ didn’t start out that way; in fact, the ‘Pair’ album isn’t really an album in its own right; it is a CD reissue of the ‘Pair of Sides’ LP with Ronnie Parasite’s contributions removed and subsequently replaced with unused Nikki Parasite tracks.]
Rather more jangly college-rock than flat-out punk, the end result was pleasing enough. It’s easy to imagine that fans of the earlier work by The Lemonheads and Replacements would have eaten this up. As far as ‘Pair’ is concerned, as enjoyable as it may be, it’s only ever the sprightly cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides Now’ which sticks in my head.
As for this follow up, ‘Punch Lines’ there’s something a little more focused. It’s still Nikki playing most of the instruments, but things have been turned up a notch. The college-rock meets punk sound is still the same, but the songs – at least in part – are more memorable. ‘Young And Stupid’ is the ultimate slacker anthem, with lyrics like ‘Got so bored I wrote a personal ad / It said go out with me, you’ll have the worst time you ever had’. ‘Crazy’ has a feel good factor which sums up the Parasites approach and ‘I’m Gonna Make You Love Me’ makes great use of a sing-along chorus.
On the negative side, the end of the album really drags, with ‘Roses’ offers little new to the album by this point and ‘Let Down’ becoming tedious due to instrumental padding. It’s decent enough proof that this style of music works best when things are kept under the three minute mark.
Overall, ‘Punch Lines’ is far from perfect, despite being better than ‘Pair’. Even so, three or four stand alone songs make it appealing enough to add to your ever-growing punk collections.