Pet Needs – ‘Intermittent Fast Living’

By Katherine Allvey

“When everyone’s super, no one will be,” taunts villain Syndrome in the first Incredibles movie. Pet Needs have always been the band which absolutely prove this animated bad guy wrong. Their superpower comes from channelling their normality and repurposing the magic they experience in their everyday lives as insightful, honest rock. It’s a talent they share with many of the Xtra Mile family, and this particular band’s albums make you realise that you really were super all along.

‘Intermittent Fast Living’ is a continuation of that philosophy and sound, but since Pet Needs have ‘hit the big time’, the normality they evoke is a now a goal rather than a chore. “In the last 18 months we have been catapulted from steady jobs and playing in our small town local bars to world tours at a million miles an hour. The life we’d grown accustomed to is constantly thrown behind us until it disappears into the distance in our rear view mirror,” explains vocalist Johnny Marriott. “We thunder forward, show by show, adventure by adventure, until [normal life] returns as a speck on the horizon like an oasis in the desert.” What do you do when you’ve finally achieved the kind of adventure that you’ve longed for, only to discover that it isn’t the rock star fantasy you imagined? ‘Intermittent Fast Living’ is the answer to that question. 

If it’s even possible, Pet Needs have become even more cynical, even in the face of success. “Here we go now, another trip round the world for us,” trills Mariott on ‘Trip’. The nature of the glorious beast we call the music industry has been grinding them down, but they’ve channelled their frustration into eloquent bangers. ‘Burning Building’, the thrashiest track on the album with a metaphor as translucent as the ash they evoke, is a cathartic vent with one heck of a guitar solo. However, it’s ‘How Are You’, the opening track, that offers something profoundly different and affecting. A ninety second spoken-word response to the titular question that evokes Scroobius Pip, the song reveals how much power is in just speaking your truth and using that to draw your line in the sand. It humanises the band, exposing the fragile crises they share with us listeners, and serving as a reminder that we’re all just people regardless of what side of the stage we find ourselves on. Working as full time musicians is exhausting them, they wail on first single ‘Sleep When I’m Dead’. But, despite all their quibbles and issues with their new lifestyles, ‘Intermittent Fast Living’ is a hopeful record, brimming with lust for the life they’re leading.

They draw their strength from their relationships, and there’s a quietly romantic streak that runs through this record. Of course, as it’s Pet Needs, their romances are not on a grand or world altering scale. ‘Buried Together’ celebrates the success of an enduring love that lasts until old age, resplendent with tiny details that grow in significance when highlighted with dark, steely chords. Playing the Golden Labrador partner to make a point about codependency works for them on the punky ‘Separation Anxiety’, and makes for a charmingly chaotic opener. “Talk to me ‘cos I’m on the edge,” begs Mariott on ‘Fingernails’, searching for solace amid a world of imagined disasters and self-doubt. Sweet key changes make his insecurity endearing, and a tinny, pop-punk falsetto bridge  sprinkles a timeless loneliness through the song. Love comes in many forms, and the affectionate inadequacy of still not being able to meet parental expectations is the fuel for ‘The Age You Were’. While professionally they might have become uprooted, personally they’re closer than ever, and this record serves as a wonderful tribute to the bonds between themselves and their loved ones. 

Pet Needs have the ability to open brief windows on their lives, and after listening to ‘Intermittent Fast Living’ you’re left with the feeling that you know the band as friends, ready to open your hearts to their anecdotes, wit and heartache. With a refined blend of honest rock, slow reflections and enough bangers to open up an ironic pit, this can only be the record that keeps them on their whirlwind of touring success. 

KATE ALLVEY

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