Fresh – ‘Fresh’

By Ashwin Bhandari

When you think of the London power pop group ‘Fresh’, the terms cutesy, catchy and carefree spring to mind. Having joined the ranks of Muncie Girls, Shit Present, and Great Cynics, thanks to their signing with Specialist Records, their self-titled debut sees the band really come into their own. Whilst this record clocks in at just under 20 minutes, there’s plenty of indie punk goodness to sink your teeth into.

Guitarist/Vocalist Kathryn Woods enchants us with opener ‘Short Hair, Don’t Care’ a minimal ballad where she reminisces over the foundations of a crush. The delicate guitar plucking over a light organ compliments Woods’s voice perfectly, with the endearing hook “Don’t be straight this time, Shepherds Bush, a hand in mine.”

Moments later, we’re catapulted into the air punching, energetic pop anthem ‘Get Bent’. Daniel Goldberg’s drumming is punchy and springs you right into the action, which you can hear with clarity thanks to the brilliant mixing from producer Dom Wright. Despite the fact that ‘Get Bent’ has existed since the band’s early demos, this re-recorded version is a total game-changer. Gone are the tinny, closed hi-hat beats, replaced with racing snare fills and blistering cymbal crashes.

Woods’s delivery of the opening lines “Don’t tell me what to like, don’t tell me I’ve gone too far, I’ll take pictures of the sky, I’ll fucking listen to MCR” shows a nice level of teenage angst with relatable charm. Everything from the driving guitar riffs to the gang chant chorus of “Don’t be a dick, I’ll show what I’m about”, has all the workings of power pop genius.

The other lead singles ‘I’ll Be Back’ and ‘Fuck My Life’ are strong contenders for the best tracks overall, defiant and uplifting, showing us how much Fresh have progressed. ‘Bible Camp’ is arguably their noisiest and frantic song yet, as bassist George Phillips bellows over Woods  “Sit back relax”. Even the false start on ‘Passing’ can’t stop the positive momentum throughout this record. You can almost smell the familiar waft of Red Stripe and sweat from small venues from the faster cuts.

As with a lot of modern emo bands, there’s an emphasis on openly talking about mental health, highlighted on ‘Goodbye Suckers.’ Here, Woods exemplifies the pressures of being told to toughen up, when she’s content with “keeping her edges soft.”

On the whole, Fresh doesn’t meander into particularly deep or hard hitting territories here, but that doesn’t take anything away from the messages they give us. There’s still a great sense of whimsy and glee to cover up the sadness, especially on closing tracks ‘Lead Ashtray’ and ‘No Big Deal’. They genuinely sound like cuts off of Joyce Manor’s self-titled record, right down to the bouncy melodies and the guitar solo on ‘Ashtray’. They’re also not quite ready to change the world yet, but that’s okay because they are masters of their own.

ASHWIN BHANDARI

 

 

 

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