The Lock & Keys are a Leeds based pop punk band and play the kind of music you wouldn’t usually associate with bands such as Errander, Cavorts, Send More Paramedics, Gentleman’s Pistols and D-Rail. However, this band is comprised of members of each and have just launched their debut album.
Having been together since 2008, touring with Black Lungs, Crime in Stereo, Polar Bear Club and Make Do and Mend, and recording demos and EPs with the likes of Steve Ellis and Jason Sanderson has given the band enough experience and confidence to offer up what should be a very fine and impressive debut indeed. 2012 might have involved band members getting married, player’s touring with Dragon Force and producer Jason Sanderson recording Rolo Tomassi’ much lauded third album but somehow they found the time to record enough material to apparantly fill two albums; once again with Jason Sanderson.
Although their debut Late Nights, Good Friends is only released via bandcamp.com for the time being, the band hope that it will garner enough label attention to warrant a physical release and a distro deal further down the line. Is it worthy of one? Damn right it is.
While I might yearn for some quality local Doom or Black Metal, I also think there’s a real gap for a real quality pop punk band. Many of those currently active lean too much towards an Emo template or tamer bands such as Green Day and Blink-182, and why do that when you could nod your cap to the brilliance of bands such as Rocket From the Crypt or Fucked Up? While still sounding very pop (there’s even a few of what you might call ballads in there) the band retain aggression and passion and while their brand of pop punk is firmly steeped in the influence of hardcore, it does so without ever trudging too close to Emo. Phew!
With tracks weighing in at an average two and a half minutes, this thirteen track opus grabs your attention from the off with opener Wasting Time. It’s actually the longest track on offer here but by no means does it drag. Liena’s keys sound like an entire brass section and you’ve got the pace and anthemic edge of Rocket From the Crypt or Black Lungs. In fact the keyboards here give their sound a real edge, moving from brass to space and Hammond to what sometimes sounds like a second noodling guitars. It’s always subtle, never overpowers and compliments every single time. I look forward to hearing how it comes across live.
Like all of the best Pop, the album has a dark underbelly and slower tracks Don’t Let Go and the over-all-too-quickly Late Nights are unpinned with a sad longing, but its the brilliant balance between these tracks and those such as the optimistic Absent Friends and its lyrics ‘coming into me like a sad song, reminisce about times long gone’, that make this such a unique collection of songs.
Raise Your Glass is uplifting and a real showcase for Stu on drums with some great rolls and the same goes for Let It Burn, which once again brings in the brass on the keys and spotlight on Rik’s rumble and some great stabbing rhythms.
Credit to both Rik and Liena’s backing vocals, especially on Alibi when you can hear both voices clearly and you realise how refreshing it is to have a female voice in the mix. And Niall… well, he’s the perfect frontman. He’s a lover, not a fighter and his vocal performance keeps this fresh and notch above most other punk bands.
A real highlight for me though is Late Nights. ‘My hands smell of pizza, as I crawl into my bed. I’ve been awake for way too long, but I go to sleep content’ is sung with a sad yearning to do it all again. It’s a song about how even though some nights can be right rough, you can still be happy with your lot. It’s tough, short and sweet, and for me that pretty much sums up the album as a whole; as does the message in the album closer Punk Rock, ‘standing in the middle of this crowd, shoulder to shoulder for the same thing. This is what I’ve found to put my faith in.’ A life-affirming call to arms.
Late Nights, Good Friends, like the best pop, is a black celebration; songs touched by sadness and longing but ultimately uplifting and optimistic. So, if like they say they have enough material for two albums, hurry the fuck up and give me another because this is too good to not have seconds. Raise your glass to good times and get yourself a copy.
It is Pop Punk in the truest sense; beautifully crafted songs, timeless lyrics and a chest pounding beat at its proud heart. Bassist Rik says ‘the album itself is summed up a lot by its title. It’s about life, friends, love and death – pretty much about appreciating what you have in front of you & enjoying it and that feeling successfully runs through it from start to finish.’ Late Nights, Good Friends is a celebration of times gone and times to come.