Banquets – Top Shelf, Bottom Shelf

Banquets coverIt’s a little hard for me to write about Banquets. This–I will explain for the benefit of newcomers–is because a little over a year ago I reviewed an EP of theirs. Then, a few months ago, I reviewed a split that they released.

You may notice that the tone between those two reviews shifts a little. During the first review they were a new band to me. I liked them but wanted more from them. During the second review I still felt they lacked a little something, but by god did I ramble upon about just why I like Banquets as a band.

Irrelevant, irreverent context: after my first review one of the dudes in the band emailed me to thank me for a thoughtful review. After the second review, they didn’t even link it from their Facebook. Yep: my review sounded like the expurgation of an embarrassing fan.

(That’s unfair on both Banquets and myself. I just thought it might prove amusing. In fact, it’s probably only that my review emerged long after the release of the split.)

I want to move past my personal history with this band, such as it is. I want to talk about why you, the reader, should listen to Banquets, the band. I really want to. Unfortunately, I also really, really hate repeating myself.

This fact about me is instructive. It tells you two things:

1.) That there is little to say about Top Button, Bottom Shelf that I have not already said about the band elsewhere.

2.) That this absolutely does not matter, because Banquets are a fucking awesome band.

I have listened to Top Shelf, Bottom Shelf a lot. I will continue to do so. I still feel that Banquets are an irrepressibly upbeat band. They are still impressively dynamic and they remain stylishly proficient at what they do. They still boast vocal lines and melodies that don’t so much kick other bands aside as sail straight past them.

I don’t yet have any particular favourites on this album but–and this is vital–I listened to This Is Our Concern Dude a lot of times before I realised just what a great EP it was, and I listened to the split with Mayflower a lot before I quite clicked with it. The same is true here.

That’s right, folks. This is an awesome pop-punk album that only gets better with age. Sounds like hyperbole, huh? It sure does, and that’s because I really, really like Banquets, and at this point I’m struggling to even care about the pretence of subjectivity that helps the corrupt and half-pointless trade that is music reviews trundle along as though music streaming and downloads hadn’t rendered it almost entirely irrelevant.

You run away, endlessly
Eat your words, ignore the shame
We could be ‘never were’, ‘never speak’.

Listen to Top Shelf, Bottom Shelf. If you’ve read NFI over the past few years, do me that much, at least. And when we finally entice them to play over here, I hope you’ll enjoy me in linked arms and voices raised and the impossible romance of ephemeral moments.

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