Gender Roles – ‘Prang’

By Andy Joice

It’s fair to say Brighton is a melting pot of creatives, musicians, and eccentrics. It’s one of the reasons there’s a surge of bands coming from the city. Another is that it’s home to a prominent ‘DIY’ scene, with smaller venues and local promoters regularly putting on young and new bands to help them cut their teeth. It’s the perfect place for bands to grow and develop themselves and nurture talent.

Take Gender Roles for example.

Melding the bridge between grunge and punk, Gender Roles formed after the three members met at a Pride Party in 2015 and used the local DIY scene to incubate their sound and reputation. Since then, they’ve signed to Big Scary Monsters, played multiple festivals, and supporting the likes of PUP, Cancer Bats, Touche Amour, and Jamie Lenman. With the release of their debut album ‘Prang’ being highly anticipated both within the city and across multiple genre fanbases, it’s fair to say Gender Roles are well on their way to becoming a highly respected and adored band.

Opening the album with lead single ‘You Look Like Death’, it’s easy to see where they’re heading throughout the rest of the record. Melodious, punchy, and with waves of softer verses crowned by heavy, grunge-infused distortion. With an outstandingly catchy chorus, you can’t help but imagine this being sung in unison by crowds at their frenetic live shows.

It’s a style that stays throughout ‘Prang’, creating a weird nostalgia of pure 90s dissonance with Pixies-esque quiet-loud-quiet patterns, with ‘Always’ being a prime example. Jared Tomkins’ fluid basslines float behind everything, holding together Tom Bennett’s vocals and fuzzy guitar. Containing a genuinely compelling guitar solo, it’s a mismatch made in heaven.

It would be easy to assume – with the weight of the instruments and production on Bennett’s vocals that make some lines difficult to make out – that there isn’t much content to the lyrics, but there’s a subtlety and depth to most tracks. ‘Hey With Two Whys’, the second single released and another with a catchy chorus, touches on self-doubt and anxiety, while the previously mentioned ‘Always’ deals with the loss of a loved one. While they’re not afraid to touch potentially sensitive subjects, there’s a playfulness that resonates and offers a slightly softer tone.

Closing track ‘Bubble’ stacks in at six minutes long – not only the longest on the album, but the longest in their back catalogue too. If you define ‘Prang’ by one song, it would be this. Bouncing between numerous genres, cleverly written lyrics and melodies that stick out as much as the chorus, it incorporates everything from the previous nine tracks and packages them as one.

As debuts go, this is fantastic. The noise they’re able to create with just three people is not only impressive, it’s deafening. For a band who have been around for a mere four years, their rise to prominence can only be described as meteoric. It’s rare for a band in their early years to be so keyed into each other and create a genuinely unique sound. And with ‘Prang’ being a contender for Album of The Year, Gender Roles can only get bigger.

ANDY JOICE

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