Release Date: Jun 17, 2016
Record label: FatCat Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Garage Punk, Indie Rock
Sometimes, authenticity can trump innovation—and for Glasgow, Scotland trio PAWS—that's exactly the case. The band's first two records, Cokefloat! and Youth Culture Forever, were bulging with scrappy, heartfelt, and totally impassioned pop punk dynamics. If you're north of 12 years of age, the foundations of PAWS' sound, which are set in stone at this point, won't be anything new.
Funny that a band like PAWS can sound so of their time and yet so far removed from it. On one hand their brand of pop-punk sounds positively archaic compared to the anodyne hi-jinx of Neck Deep et al; on the other you can tie their indie-centric sounds to the 90s-referencing powerpop of, say, Cheap Girls or Beach Slang. By this third album they’ve pretty much mastered their craft too – their bass-propelled fuzz zips entertainingly by, with a sterling production job from Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus amplifying the sunny melodicism of Gild The Lily and Gone So Long.
It's hard not to be thankful that PAWS exist at times like these. It's summer 2016 and instead of gearing up for hedonism and sunshine, we're seemingly caught in a perpetual collective anxiety. The EU referendum, the threat of a man named after passing wind and general cultural malaise seems to be all anybody can be concerned with... What about all the great music coming out then? Welcome PAWS, a Scottish punk trio who make exactly the kind of whip-smart rock'n'roll we should all be prescribed with a heady dose of.
In a lot of ways, No Grace is the kind of album you would expect PAWS to make at this point in their career. Coming after finding themselves at a crossroads and on the brink of cracking after a grueling tour, they channeled their anxieties and frustrations into going big and making something of a definitive statement. No Grace vsees them continuing to make subtle adjustments to their sound without straying too far out of their comfort zone.
Weary from years of constant touring, Glaswegian punk trio PAWS took a literal pause in their schedule, giving themselves a much needed break to reflect and write their next album. It's not an uncommon story for hardworking indie bands who, after a handful of D.I.Y. releases and way too many hours in the van, find themselves at a career crossroads. Their mettle effectively tested, some bands crack and call it a day while others gear up for one more all-or-nothing campaign to see what it nets them.
Scotland's PAWS fight cynicism on all fronts with their third effort No Grace, a moderate shift from the swingy, mid-tempo garage-rock they played on 2014's Youth Culture Forever and 2012's slightly more abrasive Cokefloat! The Scottish trio's new record will sit nicely on the shelf next to catchy punk bands like Beach Slang or Cheap Girls, owing at least in part to production by mutual fan Mark Hoppus. But PAWS haven't gone the way of polished pop-punk. Rather, it's more of a spit-shined sound, with fuzzy but folky chords, savoury harmonies and some big choruses that'll draw fans of Japandroids.
Since 2012’s ‘Cokefloat’, Paws have been an archetype hooky, fuzzy guitar band. ‘No Grace’, however, takes a subtly different turn that at certain moments verges on pop-punk (a version of the chicken/egg question raised by the fact it was produced by blink-182’s Mark Hoppus). This album often sees them polishing that initial fuzz on a lot of their songs, with riffs that shimmer in turquoise and lilac.
There’s no denying that being in a band can take its toll on the members. In a time where artists rely on toursmore and more to make a living, being away from home for weeks at a time isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Something Glasgow’s Paws found out first hand. Rather than turn their negative emotions inwards however, imploding underneath the strain as often bands do, Paws came to the collective conclusion that when shit hits the fan, you go big, or go home.