Science Club‘Aging Punks’ is the third independent release from Philadelphia based punk-pop crew Science Club – and that fact astounds frontman Nate Adams (“Third record. That’s more than Joy Division got…and more than Weezer got if you ask my Uncle Greg”).  Since he’s amazed that his DIY project has made it this far, he’d likely be equally as surprised to hear that – to an outsider’s ears – it shows a definite sense of progression from the band’s previous releases [self-titled, 2012; ‘Success’, 2013].  A couple of these tunes bring an increased sense of maturity in their sound,  while  a couple of the lyrics, too, are surprisingly wry and knowing – eventually leading to something quite memorable.  This doesn’t make itself immediately obvious, however, as the band open this EP with a street-punk belter that tears straight out of the gate full throttle.

After a slightly wobbly intro, ‘More Than A Man’ is fast, unrelentingly hard in the rhythm guitar department and somewhat musically disposable, (but in a good way).  It doesn’t pretend to push any of punk-pop’s boundaries, but most importantly, it shows a strong musical unit, with Adams’s choppy guitar work right out in front.  Showing influences from Swingin’ Utters and a touch of Dropkick Murphys (though the influence from the latter is not as obvious as it had been previously on the previous release’s ‘Best Punk Band In The World’) the street punk elements manifest in a rallying cry of the title line, working excellently with the energy the band sums up.  In and out in under two minutes, there’s no padding here – nothing flash – just good honest punky enjoyment.  With a similar drive, ‘A Future Sure To Come’ is powered by lyrics concerning reaching out to those who are important to you: “When Joe and Michelle have their baby, I know I’ll be there / When Sam and Hannah get married, I know I’ll be there / When Greg OD’s on medication, I know I’ll be there / and when John’s band finally tours the nation, I know I’ll be there.”  Never before has the lyric ‘Everyone you love is going die’ been delivered with such a charm or appeal, and kudos must be given to the band for offering such sentiments without sarcasm or sneering edge [the awful Young Jesus could learn from this, especially after their attempts at delivering similar sentiments (albeit in a reverse and ironic manner) fell on their arse rather spectacularly].  With some superb drum work courtesy of Joey Delorenzo, this is without doubt one of the finest tunes in the Science Club catalogue, his drum fills lifting some tried and tested punk attitude to bigger heights, while occasional acoustic twiddles give an already brilliant tune an extra air of Gaslight Anthem/Frank Turner folk-punk coolness.

‘Steal Your Shit’ represents some over-familiar (nevertheless, well played) punk fare that hardly taxes the musicians, while the overtly shouty ‘No Ghost’ allows bassist Nick Elmer the luxury of a few impressive flourishes underneath the more basic guitar chops.  Both numbers clear the cobwebs with both their force and brevity, though neither is as memorable as ‘A Future Sure To Come’ – thus proving there’s so much to be said for making a lyric more personal.  For those listeners looking for something deeper (musically, if not necessarily lyrically), ‘Blood Ghost’ slows things to punchy mid-pace, the wall of guitars retaining an edge, but all the while tempered by some great ringing notes.  The bass is higher in the mix too – Elmer’s playing constantly proves itself an integral part of the Science Club sound with its hard and surprisingly melodic quality.  Factor in some strong imagery within the lyric – one which gradually improves from its “shitty week” opening gambit – and this becomes another cast-iron reason to pick up this EP.  Similar tones fill ‘Free Pimp C’ which after a tough sounding vocal/bass intro blooms into somthing almost as impressive as ‘Blood Ghost – well structured verses of hard, staccato riffing, coupled with a full-sounding compliment of jangling guitars on its chorus. While the the best of the punkier tunes signify Science Club as a band to watch, it’s numbers such as this, when channelling such strong influences from (early) Gaslight Anthem that the band sounds at their most accomplished.

Clearly a band of two separate styles – but equally adept at both – Science Club ought to reach a bigger audience with this release.  Any success very much deserved, especially if New Jersey-ish tones of their slower numbers are a signifier of things to come.    You can listen to (and purchase) ‘Aging Punks’ via the Bandcamp widget below.

January 2014