Century Thirteen – ‘Century Thirteen’

By Tom Walsh

In making their self-titled LP Glaswegian punks Century Thirteen went against their previous conventional wisdom and enlisted the help of a producer. The decision to move away from self-recording was said to have been taken to provide an extra sense of freedom in both arrangements and performance. This would explain why an extended, orchestral version of opening track ‘Get Off’ has made the final cut.

This is a band that prides itself on exploring new sounds, constantly looking at ways to evolve and incorporate different influences to their output, and it is this ethos that makes ‘Century Thirteen’ fall a tad flat. There are moments where a thirst for innovation does shine through, but it’s let down by other repetitive and trudging tracks.

Opener, and later inspiration for the encapsulating orchestral rendition, ‘Get Off’ is a classic, bouncy pop punk track with the essence of Fenix TX oozing from every pore. It’s a solid opener, but it’s followed by a series of forgettable tracks which seemingly blend into one – an issue that can befall many bands within the pop punk genre.

There are moments that do raise an eyebrow, such as lead single ‘A Million Times’, but it is not until the end of the album where Century Thirteen reward their listener. The closing trio of songs are undoubtedly the highlight of the album, offering a glimpse of the innovative nature of the band.

‘Dark Descent’ is a complete sea change in tone of ‘Century Thirteen’, ditching the faux American notes for a natural Glaswegian drawl. It adds a layer of intensity that had been lacking from the album, and puts a unique stamp on it, separating themselves from their contemporaries. Closer ‘Break’ is Century Thirteen in their most expressive mode, beautifully arranged and delivered with an almighty punch.

These tracks provide the blanket around Century Thirteen’s opus. It would’ve been an easy decision to leave the album at a comfortable twelve songs, but to transform an achingly pop punk song like ‘Get Off’ into a haunting operatic number shows the band’s artistic ambition. The string section, combined with the harmonised vocals, adds huge gravitas to the lyrics that take on a deeper meaning when not set against a guitar and drum heavy backdrop.

‘Century Thirteen’ is not a groundbreaking LP, and is guilty of including a number of disposable tracks, but it does provide moments of a band capable of much more.

TOM WALSH

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