Release Date: Oct 9, 2012
Record label: Fat Cat Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
PAWS' Cokefloat! cover may be wholly misleading, with the precious comic-art girl encircled in flowers and hearts, but don't be tricked into thinking this is sadcore. Here on their debut, Phillip Taylor, Matt Scott, and Josh Swinney fuse together blood-pumping indie rock with an unwitting gift for power pop to craft a tight, fun-packed debut that never misses the mark. Musically, the Scottish garage trio references '90s guitar rockers like Dinosaur Jr.
PAWS are children of the 1990s-- that much should be obvious from the first seconds of the Glaswegian trio's debut, Cokefloat!. "Catherine 1956" leads proceedings with the kind of dirt-caked guitar progression and proudly imperfect, nasal vocalizing that will never be attributed to the present time no matter how enduring its pleasures. But here, "children of the 90s" is much more meaningful in the literal sense: Lead singer Philip Taylor was born in 1990 (the other members of PAWS are 23 and 26) and has no qualms about acting his age.
The thing about Cokefloat!, the debut album from Glasgow garage-poppers PAWS, is that it contains no guile. No guile, and very little irony. The lyrics are declarative sentences, and the sentiments they declare are so pure and simple in intent that it’s easy to believe the band is trying to fool you. “She wasn’t just my mother/She was my friend/A good friend,” sings lead singer Phillip Taylor on opening track “Catherine 1956,” a cheery punk elegy with a Bruce Springsteen ideology: “Do something for me and get out of this town/’Cause there’s nothing for you here.” PAWS’ sound, raw and spontaneous when live, is a difficult one to capture on record.
Formed by a trio of high school kids a few years ago, Glasgow rockers PAWS have wasted no time establishing their sound and perfecting their performance. Priding themselves on “[bashing] out infectious, lo-fi, garage pop-rock that can quickly shift from cute melancholia to an unnerving territorial roar,” their lyrics cover your typical teenage topics, such as “sarcastic self-analysis and … brutal home truths.” Unfortunately, modesty and ambition only count for so much, and despite its humility and DIY charm, their debut LP, Cokefloat! doesn’t offer anything new or worthwhile. It’s rather mediocre and forgettable.
Agonisingly personal music, poured straight from the heart – just as punk should be. Mike Haydock 2012 “She wasn’t only just my mother / She was my friend, a good friend.” So begins this debut album by Glasgow’s PAWS, singer Phillip’s off-key slacker whine preparing the ground before the distortion kicks in. “I sat and twiddled my thumbs when you told me to be strong.” His mother, it turns out, has passed away from cancer – and it’s a theme that Phillip revisits at regular intervals on Cokefloat!.
Sadly it doesn’t come with an actual drink, but PAWS’ ‘Cokefloat!’ is a fantastic debut album. Its lo-fi pop-rock is unrelentingly catchy, and despite some of the lyrical content being a little bit dark – just listen to opener ‘Catherine 1956’, about the death of frontman Philip Taylor’s mother – it’s still upbeat and easy to listen to.There isn’t a strong sense of where the band is from, which could either be a good or a bad thing depending on how you feel about Glasgow. What is noticeable, however, is producer Rory Atwell’s deft touch; louder songs like ‘Tulip’ have screams at just the right time.But the quieter moments are good too, offering a kind of respite from the energy of the 13-track album.
On Paws' first LP, the young Scottish trio sinks pop hooks into hazy, lyric-driven grunge. Singer/guitarist Phillip Taylor's walkie-talkie vocals wail sentimental diary entries of childhood recollections, grudges, and emotional baggage with surprising success. Often it's literal, like the ode-to-my-deadbeat-dad slow jam "Get Bent," where Taylor sings: "Fuck you, I don't need you anyway/I've tried and tried and tried to get through/If you don't even know my favorite food or animal, how can I depend on you?" Paws' scrappy rhythm section provides a decent backdrop for Taylor's quadruple-tracked guitar riffs and wordy prose.