While 2016 has been another fantastic year for music so far, it has been relatively thin in terms of great rock albums. There certainly has been no shortage of psychedelic records that have blown us away, but the same couldn’t be said for some classic, guitar-driven rock albums. PAWS, though, are doing their part to change that perception with their rocking new LP, No Grace.
The trio’s third album is straight-out-of-the-90s, alternative rock, which is not surprising since the producer is none other than Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 fame. Like their more famous alt-rock brethren, the songs on No Grace are brief and straight to the point with the longest track coming in at 3 minutes, 30 seconds. In addition, the entire album is a reflection on growing up and its insecurities as well as our place in the world – once again, not deviating far from the Blink-182 framework, albeit done with a more serious rather than whimsical tone.
The melodic rocker “Impermanent” offers some of the best songwriting on the album. This melodic rocker offers a critique of human’s destructive behavior as well as an observation that we are all expendable like a cog in the bigger machine that can easily be replaced. “Complete Contempt” and the album’s title track resurrect Blink-182’s anti-establishment mentality and celebration of individuality. The line, “All friends can become new faces as we cross off that list of places” from “No Grace” represents the “cut-the-crap” mentality that permeates throughout the album.
PAWS, though, is not immune to the “love song”. “Empire State” is the one track that addresses this well-worn subject area, although the song is worth visiting for the guitar work. But the album’s clear blistering star is “Salt Lake”, a 2-minute, 17-second instrumental full of reverb-drenched guitar licks and cascading rhythms. It offers a great lead-in to “Clarity”. Another gritty rocker, “Clarity” is a song we can all relate to, about moving on from the people who have used or manipulated us.
For a new generation of listeners, No Grace will be something new and refreshing in today’s synth- and electronic-oriented music realm we currently live in. For older fans, No Grace is by no means reinventing alternative rock, but then again do they need to? It is a reminder that alternative rock still remains relevant even in today’s era and, like 25 years ago, music can be meaningful while rocking awesome at the same time.
No Grace is out now via Fat Cat Records. PAWS have commenced an extensive European tour. Find dates here. No word on when and if the trio of Phillip Taylor, Josh Swinney, and Ryan Drever will be heading overseas anytime soon.
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