Pet Needs – ‘Fractured Party Music’

By Tom Walsh

Opening an album by screaming “drinking real ale don’t make you a connoisseur” sets a reliable tone for Colchester four-piece Pet Needs’ debut LP. It takes mere seconds for the rumbling ball of chaotic energy that is ‘Fractured Party Music’ to explode in your face, and it’s quite impressive that so much is packed into just 33 minutes.

Produced by Frank Turner – who hopped on board after being blown away by Pet Needs’ ferocious live show at Camden Rocks in 2019 – it swings between ambitious anthemic compositions, scrappy punk ditties, and dabbling in slam poetry. The lyrics are frank, cutting and, at times, self-deprecating with that knowing nod to the audience.

Lead single ‘Tracy Emin’s Bed’, is an instant classic as lead singer Johnny Marriott delves into public perceptions, self-image and his own mental wellbeing. Using the famous Turner Prize exhibition as a muse, he recites what feels like an internal monologue, proclaiming “it’s like Tracy Emin’s Bed in my head, kind of creative but mainly just a mess”.

These self-referential lyrics persist throughout ‘Fractured Party Music’, as Marriott talks of how our lives are boiled down to YouTube algorithms (‘Pavlovian’), and overblowing your own successes to fit into a facile conversation with an old flame on a chance meeting (‘Overcompensating’). Marriott’s interesting take on the world is only complimented by the burning energy of Pet Needs’ distinctive sound, encompassing all styles within the punk canon. While ‘You Look Like You Never Bought a Scratchcard’ is a classic folk punk track – one that easily could’ve been a Frank Turner song in a different era – songs like ‘Roses’ and the especially grooving ‘Toothpaste’ take more of an early Manic Street Preachers vibe. There’s also the tender acoustic ballad ‘As The Spin Cycle Span’, a tragic telling of modern working life.

Closing track ‘Embers’ even comes with a pertinent message to “grab life by the balls and live it” before your time is up. It puts a pleasing seal on ‘Fractured Party Music’, which as a whole is a hugely invigorating record. As demonstrated in their live shows, Pet Needs are a band that are going to excite – and as a debut, ‘Fractured Party Music’ effortlessly translates that energy to record. A name to look out for in the coming years.

TOM WALSH

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