The Gateway District – Perfect’s Gonna Fail (album)

Perfect's Gonna Fail coverOh boy. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to write about a record because you could so easily sum up your thoughts in a single sentence.

That sentence: if you like Dear Landlord, Off With Their Heads, Banner Pilot and The Soviettes then you will also like this.

Dead simple huh? Gateway District features current or ex-members of all of these bands as well as The Salteens and Rivethead (who I’ve not heard) and play awesome fast-paced hooky punk rock music that recalls all four bands in that sentence above, with vocals that recall either The Soviettes and The Epoxies (despite not, as far as I can tell from half-finished Wikipedia pages, actually featuring a female singer from either band). From this side of the pond, Caves are also a good reference point for nailing down those lead vox, with The Vibrators surely being a more classic influence.

There are very few songs here that break the two and a half minute mark; many are two minutes or under, making them short and sweet, each song busting out a few good hooks and letting the lead and backing vocals mesh with them in that impossibly catchy way that the best pop-punk manages so consistently. Considering the band’s pedigree, is that really any surprise?

With almost every song present having a broadly similar character there’s not much to say about them individually; besides which, with twelve songs rattled through in twenty-six minutes, this is a record I’ll listen to completely rather than pick out individual songs. That said, ‘Blue Halls’ has my favourite vocal refrain in “you worthless piece of shit” (who can’t get into that?) and is immediately followed by ‘New Hands’ which features odd and ace lyrics as well as some sick climbing octave chord progressions scattered throughout.

Towards the end of the album, there is a bit more variety as well – it’s an odd choice but I guess a lot of people are going to come to Perfect’s Gonna Fail expecting straight-ahead punk rock, so why not front-load that? So yeah, ‘Fishman’s Song’, the longest track at 2:51, is a fairly midpace tune (at least by the standards set before it) with a striding rather than driving rhythm. In places it feels a little meandering, but it’s held together by more memorable vocal work, and sets the scene for the more sombre ‘Cairo’ and ‘Queen Ave’, which follow.

There aren’t many surprises to be found here, but there are some really, really great tunes. The usual proviso; if you can’t stand pop-punk, this ain’t gonna change your mind, you joyless freak. For the rest of us, this is ace. Ace ace ace. Listen to it. Maybe you’ll listen to it repeatedly for a while before moving on, and occasionally you’ll later come back to it with the joy of a rediscovered album of simple, immediate pleasures. That, after all, is how pop-punk endures.

MySpace | Bandcamp | | It’s Alive Records

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