It’s certainly interesting when musicians known for such a strong body of work within their genre, release albums so intermittently. In the case of London street punks Cock Sparrer it comes as a real treat for their fans when the band drop a new album – and with Forever, their sixth album in a whopping 45 year long career, the band update their sound without shifting too far from the classic Oi! sound which they helped to define.
The key thing to remember about Cock Sparrer is that, despite their sometimes aggressive, socially questioning lyrics, the band has always managed to deliver the melodies that keep these lyrical barbs stuck in the listeners head. This comes across on lead single Gonna Be Alright with its very British take on pop-punk – sporting a punchy chorus complete with vibrant harmonies.
To be fair to the band, they keep the hostilities at a minimum here, with only a couple of tracks like opener One By One – which recalls youthful scrapping – coming across slightly brutish. The majority of the record deals with themes of unity and even tackles socially relevant issues such as unprovoked attacks on Somebodies Brother, Somebodies Son.
Although the format remains familiar, what separates this record from early releases, even from 2008’s Here We Stand, is the chunky production. Where once they embraced the minimal, buzzsaw guitar approach – on Forever, a meaty rhythm section holds up Mikey Beaufoy’s ultra-melodic lead guitar lines, even frontman Colin McFaull’s cockney snarl is pushed front and center.
With the band now releasing music at a declining rate, it seems that Cock Sparrer has put all they have into Forever and it shows through walloping anthems and their trademark brutally honest lyrics. It’s more than likely that the question on the lips of fans is “Could this be the bands last record?” If the answer is yes, Forever stands as a fine epitaph for an enduring band.
Forever is available now.