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Buck Eejit "The Terri Hooley 7" EP" review from N.I Punk Website

The Defects "Live in the Ulster Hall" CD review from N.I Punk Website

The Defects "Politicophobia" review from N.I Punk Website

Hard Case "Waiting for my Ship to Come in 7" EP" review from N.I Punk Website

The Androids 7" EP review from N.I Punk Website

The Outcasts "Frustration: Best Of" CD review from N.I Punk Website

The Defects "Hill Street" CD single review from N.I Punk Website

The Outcasts "Blood and Thunder" CD review from N.I Punk Website

Protex "Can't Leave Those Strange Obsessions to Rest 7" EP" review from N.I Punk Website

The Defects "Riot Free Zone 7" single" review from N.I Punk Website

Stage B "People Of The Book" CD review from N.I Punk Website

U.K Subs "A Blast in Belfast" CD review from N.I Punk Website

Wasted Life "Weapons of Self-Destruction" review from N.I Punk Website

Victim - Swan Songs (Album)

Victim – Swan Songs (Punkerama Records)

Out Now

CD

8/10

Victim’s comeback album lives up to expectations. Louder Than War’s Amy Britton reviews.

Victim have always been, in my own humble opinion, one of the punk bands most unfairly left behind by history, hugely underrated and every inch as worthy of success as their better known-contemporaries. Initially part of the Irish punk scene-signed by the heroically DIY, wonderfully optimistic Good Vibrations label, they later settled in Manchester (undergoing various line-up changes including at one point future Smiths drummer Mike Joyce). Their sound was very much that of the Good Vibrations pop-punk roster, but would also embrace the cerebral lyricism of the Manchester post-punk scene.

So I suppose it goes without saying that I’m excited about their new studio album “Swan Songs.” Wes Graham and Joe Moody are of course still the constant presence, and in an attempt to communicate his fixation with the existential Moody, Graham has undoubtedly created the finest lyrics of his career. The artwork evokes William Blake; drenched in spiritual and madness. But, to use a Blakean analogy, to what extent can Victim’s new songs of experience measure up against their wonderful late 70’s songs of innocence?

The opening track, “The Vacant Lot”, sets the scene perfectly by rolling all the key aspects of the album into one song; the opening chords remind me slightly of Sugar, before it gives way to the distinctly Victim melodic Irish punk sound. Its lyrics elevate a potential relationship song into something deeply existential, referring to “our Fall” and traditional tragedy images of darkness and light. The Blake analogy could easily remain; considering his illustrations for Dante’ Divine Comedy, as Moody keeps this kind of dark spirituality and classical imagery persistent throughout. Not that this is an album which isn’t concerned with the modern world, as themes give way to  “Trademark World,” its almost jangly melody deceptive of a serious concern on an advertising dominated world (“we live off the land so we advertise it”) , which evokes more of the droll cynicism of, say, Larkin’ “Sunny Prestatyn” than Milton or Blake.

For all their universal, relatable themes, Moody and co are equally open to keeping a personal edge on things, be it lyrically, as on the boldly moving, open-hearted “Back from the Edge”, or in the sound, as on one of the highlights “Star/Fish” which swells with the sound of Ireland and evokes the place and its traditions through nothing but aural impact. At the risk of lapsing into cliché, you can practically feel Leopold Bloom stumbling from bar to bar to the rhythm. Victim’s Manchester base may mean they are not an “Irish band” per se, but they do do this kind of thing very well. That said, the aforementioned edge of Manchester’s post-punk tradition still makes itself known – the moody darkness of lead-off single “In Your Grave”, all wry, almost Magazine-esque delivery with its spiky, rolling bassline, being the best example of this.

The album’s “official closer” (if one doesn’t consider the addition of the three visceral “bonus tracks” that made up the Empty Men EP I reviewed earlier this year) is “Eternal Darkness”, a reflective monologue on death which seems  a fitting closer for an album generally coloured by life and death matters and entitled “Swan Songs”. Not that the album sounds as if these should be their Swan Song – the bouncy youngsters who created such pop gems “As Strange Thing by Night” back in 1977 have allowed themselves to mature in a way which suits them very, very well, creating a well-rounded and accomplished record. Their early work is to often overlooked and it would also be a serious shame if this comeback was not treated with wide regard.

 

Victim - Swan Songs (Album Review from N.I Punk) 

Victim - 'Swan Songs' (CD album)

Picture

Victim - formed in Belfast 1977, then relocated to Manchester late 1979 where the nucleus of the band, Joe Moody and Wes Graham have been writing, recording and performing ever since. 2015 and the band have just recorded their first proper album (hard to believe, I know). Whereas their previous album 'Everything' was a collection of singles and unreleased demos, 'Swan Songs' features 11 brand new songs plus two old songs that have only just been recorded for the first time. The result is nothing short of sensational - seriously. Although drawing on influences such as Peter Perrett, Lou Reed, and Ziggy Stardust era David Bowie, Victim always maintained their own distinctive punk sound. They still have their own distinctive sound albeit a little lighter on the punk. This album has everything from the alternative folk of the closing track 'Eternal Darkness' on which Victim sound remarkably like Belfast's Subway Poets, the blistering punk infused tribute to Bob Dylan 'The Zimmer Man', the haunting 'Oblivion' which wouldn't have been out of place on Alice Coopers 'Welcome To My Nightmare' album, the swirling keyboards on the big folky ballad 'Star / Fish', the Only Ones inspired 'Vacant Lot', the hypnotic trance of 'In Your Grave', and the utterly brilliant Irish / Cajun drinking song 'The Gospel Truth'. Acoustic guitars, handclaps, whistles, infectious melodies and impeccable harmonies permeate throughout the album helping to create a joyous, uplifting vibe despite some of the dark subject matter i.e. betrayal / broken hearts ('The Vacant Lot'), suicide ('Back From The Edge'), light v dark ('Oblivion'), good v evil? (G.O.D). Way back in November 1978 Victim were filmed live at the Harp Bar, Belfast performing the song 'Trademark World'. The footage subsequently appeared in the seminal punk documentary film Shellshock Rock. Why the band never recorded the song way back then I don't know because it is a bona fide NI punk classic. Thankfully, at long last, we now have a studio recording and it still sounds fucking great. 'Cheap Thrills' (about prostitution) is the other old song (recorded for the first time) to appear on the album. Pure Johnny Thunders meets Lou Reed on a New York sidewalk full of hookers, brilliant! As well as writing all the songs, Moody and Graham played virtually all the instruments, provided all the vocals and produced the songs themselves, with minimal assistance from a few associates. Unlike myself, Moody is a true wordsmith, his lyrics are poetry in motion. Lyrics will be provided with the album so make sure you check them out. I know this review doesn't really do the album justice, so I'll sum it up in just one word - STUNNING! Oh, nearly forgot, you also get 3 bonus tracks taken from last years cracking 7" single - 'Empty Men', 'The Bus' and 'Another Weird Dream'. This is one album you must hear!

I was lucky enough to get an advance promo copy from the band, but the album is due for release very soon on the Punkerama label. I'll post details on our facebook page when I get them. Or keep checking the Punkerama facebook page for news.....