The Popes of Chillitown find themselves in an unenviable position right now. What do you do when you’re the next ska punk band to release an album after your label mates dropped what has widely been considered the greatest album of the year already? It’s like playing an all dayer and the band before were incredible and now you’re next on and people are expecting you to be able to top it!! The Be Sharp alumni are fully up to the task though, so let's dive in.
This will be the last time I mention ‘I Was Broken When You Got Here’ now since ‘Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard’ really is an entirely different beast to the former. The Popes have a sound that is much more rooted in dub than their peers and they have a flavour of ska I find reminiscent of Got The Thirst era King Prawn. One thing that’s a marked difference to previous offerings is that ‘Work Hard’ is markedly heavier than everything you may have heard from the band before. Right from the get go, with storming opener Prang, pretty much all the way through the distortion is used with reckless abandon and I’m more than happy for the change. Everything is lent to a fierceness and energy that fires me up and brings out the goosebumps on my arms.
Everything here is top draw quality. There’s not a song on the record that I’d describe as less than a goddamn riot but if you forced me to pick some incredible standouts I’d probably lean towards the aforementioned Prang, the politically aware Upside Down and the skank-all-day-on-repeat ska punk anthem Take Control. The mixture of traditional ska punk, dub and the newer heavier elements (even a little of my beloved double time drumming in Lego Prisoners) is a heady mix and something finely tuned and infinitely danceable in ‘Work Hard’. The UK ska scene is a busy place to make your stand these days with quality found in any direction you care to look. Doubly so to be associated with Be Sharp, the home of the greatest bands that UK ska has to offer. The Popes Of Chillitown have confidently and competently laid out their claim as one of the premier offerings with Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard. To say that this album is the best thing the Popes have produced to date is something of an understatement, this is a desert island album. If someone told me this was the only thing I could listen to for the rest of my life then I’d probably die a happy man, probably a little young from over skanking.
Stream and download Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard here: https://popesofchillitown.bandcamp.com/
Like Popes Of Chillitown here: https://www.facebook.com/PopesOfChillitown/
This review was written by Dan Peters.