Leeds pop-punk overlords Woke Up Dead recently exposed their debut album to the world, it is called ‘Blunt To Fakie’ and it is rather good! They are a three-piece band that plays in the classic format used by many of the most successful North American pop-punk bands like Green Day, Blink 182 and Sum 41. But they are more than just pop-punk, they appear to draw influence from old school punk, skate punk, and power pop. ‘Blunt To Fakie’ is like a greatest hits collection in terms of the power and quality of the songs. The music is full of happy vibes while the lyrics deal with much darker topics. On their FaceBook page, they state “We are a punk band from Leeds. We hate you.” Well maybe they do hate us, but after listening to this album I bloody love Woke Up Dead. The band says their main influences are the Ramones, Screeching Weasel, Teenage Bottlerocket, Mr. T Experience, and really really shitty videogames. More about the video games later! The boys got together as a band back in 2018 and since then they have shared a stage with some darned good bands, Bad Cop Bad Cop, H20, Death By Stereo and one of my favourites, Wonk Unit. They also played the Rebellion Festival last year and I reckon they would have been back this year had it not been for this bastard virus.
The album kicks off with perhaps the shortest song I have heard in ages, even by classic punk standards, “Loser Of The Year” it is a brilliant showcase of the band’s pop-punk prowess but just way too short at just 37 seconds. Incidentally, every one of the sixteen tracks clocks in at less than three minutes, just like the early Ramones stuff. The record really gets into gear with “Superman 64” a song about one of the really really shitty videogames mentioned earlier. In a parallel universe this tune, with its massive riffs, ace harmonies and huge production would be racing up the singles charts. I love some of the lyrics to “My Own Crack Lab” especially “this dedication to denigration is shining through”. The music here reminds me of early Blink 182 and once again Woke Up Dead excel in producing an incredible earworm of a tune. This is a band that is as tight as I have heard in a while, the playing on “Padded Cell” is perhaps the best on this collection; volcanic riffing from Pete, Seismic bass from Mark and drums that could move mountains from Si. There is a dialogue sample from the first Resident Evil game which opens “Spencer Mansion”, which gamers and film fans will recognise from the Resident Evil series. After listening to this album four or five times this is my second favourite track. The heaviest sounding track on the album is “Us Vs You” and the anger and venom in the lyrics is personified by describing the subject of the song, and I am glad it isn’t about me, as a “slimy fucking turd”. Maybe not a song to play to your Grandma, but I still find myself singing along on every play.
I can hear the ghost of the Ramones on “Skate”, the only thing missing is the 1,2,3,4 intro that da bruddas used to use. Another classy slab of fine punk music. Frustrated youth seems strong in “Kate”, where Dave sings of Kate being “so fucking cool” but also that Kate “don’t like boys”. The Kate in question gets mentioned in the lyrics too, it’s Kate McKinnon US comedian, actress, and star of the recent Ghostbusters reboot. I find myself providing backing vocals in harmony with bassist Mark on the glorious “I’m A Fucking Spy”. I can hear a hint of Ash in “Silly Girl” which wears its pop credentials on its sleeve and the syncopated clapping parts hark back to the early 60s girl groups. The Super Furry Animals would have been proud of a song title like “I Don’t Give A Fuck”, but it sounds nothing like them. I reckon this will sound spectacular in a live environment, although to be fair I believe the whole album will. “Nothing I Recall” made me think of the early Damned, particularly in the walking bass line which harks back to Captain Sensible’s bass playing, although much better. It is not after that a song about wishing your life would end sticks in your head, but “My Life Is A Write-Off” does just that. The closest Woke Up Dead sound to Blink 182 is on “Devil You Know” and it is a masterpiece of modern pop-punk. I am sure that this song was recorded before COVID-19 but the line “spent too long in isolation” is pertinent. My favourite track is definitely “You Don’t Know Shit”. Everything comes together perfectly on this one anger, venom, great vocals, and a stupendous performance from the lads. Album closer “Polybius” is an arcade game reference, a fictitious arcade game in fact. It comes from the urban legend from around 2000 that a supposedly fictitious game called Polybius which according to Wikipedia was said to be “part of a government-run crowdsourced psychology experiment based in Portland, Oregon, during 1981. Gameplay supposedly produced intense psychoactive and addictive effects in the player”. The song references the notorious Men In Black who allegedly visited these arcade games periodically for data mining purposes.
If I had set out to find negatives in this album I would have struggled it is an ace debut from a great band. Now I can hardly wait for some kind of normal when I can get to see them play live! Click here to listen to the album on Spotify, I will be very disappointed in you if I find that you don’t like it, in fact, I will arrange for the Men In Black to visit your home and “probe” you!
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