Posted on October 22nd, 2012 (7:00 am) by H. William Davis

Glasgow-based youngsters PAWS have released their debut album Cokefloat! on FatCat Records, a tribute to all the little unanswered questions included in a life. Although they are based on the other side of the world, Cokefloat! is an incredibly American-sounding endeavor, both musically and emotionally. Fuzzy and lo-fi, with an aesthetic somewhere between Wavves and Yuck, PAWS' ethos is a familiar one - their pathos however, is what will draw you in, like a good story.

Born from the events surrounding the recording of the album, the effect is both personal and universal, featuring frontman Phillip asking himself the inevitable questions we all ask at a certain age. It's part of the DIY ethos, claiming it doesn't matter how something is said as long as it is said in the first place. Even if they do sound silly when asked aloud in plain English, his questions are legitimate. For this reason, Cokefloat! is an album of interrogating the procession of life. While "life goes on" is usually a guarded cliché, it means something relevant in opening track "Catherine 1956." Even when life ends, something else remains, a memory or a warning, a message to get out or live with the results. Cokefloat! isn't about those choices, it's more about living with those consequences.

PAWS has something punk music of the modern era seems to have forgotten - longing. Longing may seem a silly thing to pin on punk music as indispensable, but in the end it's the only thing fitting the bill. Punk music used to want something, it used to strive for something, and the difference between getting that thing or not was all the difference. Punk music was the dissatisfied span of wasteland between what is and what could be, and without that crucial longing in the music, in the vocals, in the wailing of the guitar, it looses everything.

The punk-pop conglomeration enveloping PAWS has been rewritten so many times now - to see a new iteration, it better bring something new to the table, or have something wildly important to say. While PAWS musically explores previously mapped-out territory, they do so on their own route. Regardless of whether or not you, the listener, thinks the topics PAWS explores in Cokefloat! are important, PAWS themselves do, which is evident with even a small sampling of the album. There is so much importance in the delivery of each lyric that it's impossible to think of the band as just some young kids rambling about their youth. No, it's more akin to listening to that really smart young guy at a party who has gone through some shit you can't even imagine. It makes you analyze your own life through their own spectral lens.

It's harder to pinpoint what PAWS wants to change rather than if they want changes at all. The latter is obvious, the former is a messy affair. Like the punk-pop/lo-fi/indie influences they riff on, there is a lot of emotion in these songs, a lot of personal effects. But to say PAWS deals solely with issues of a young heart could be incorrect, for under all that forlorn longing there is a hint of desire for a social change. They ponder whether things could be different if we all asked the question differently, or waited for an answer instead of getting caught up in the rush of silence. Because the topics are so universal (your friends change, you change too; you resent your mom, but then she gets sick) they affect us in an all-encompassing way. That is to say some will listen to Cokefloat!, hearing the angst only to turn away. But we've all had that angst, like it or not, and turning away from that doesn't really help either. So in the end it's about acceptance, or learning not to accept, or getting frustrated at both options and screaming into the night like the epic wail of "Winners Don't Bleed."

The questions on Cokefloat! are typical ones like "Why are people so mean?" on "Miss American Bookworm." These are, admittedly, question we all probably asked ourselves at that age, but we probably never got the answers we were expecting. Instead we got caught up in something like life and the torrent of particularized moments making it up until we forgot we even asked a question, and we learn to live without answers. That time in between the question and the realization there is no answer, is the meat of Cokefloat!, and it is beautiful.

Track List:
1. Catherine 1956
2. Jellyfish
3. Homecoming
4. Pony
5. Bloodline
6. Boregasm
7. Sore Tummy
8. Get Bent
9. Tulip
10. Miss American Bookworm
11. Bird Inside Birdcage, Ribcage Inside Bird
12. Winners Don't Bleed
13. Poor Old Christopher Robin

Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

76 / 100
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