Call Me Malcolm

Me, Myself and Something Else

Written by: MAK on 14/05/2020 02:01:06

A little over two years ago, UK ska-punks Call Me Malcolm blew away the minds of the UK ska scene with their second full-length album "I Was Broken When You Got Here". Nobody saw it coming from a band that was notably the support or opening band on many local live shows for years. However, "Broken" was dubbed one of the best third-wave ska albums of the last decade and converted people into fans, instantly grabbing the attention of the whole DIY scene. The album even pricked the ears of established names such as Vinnie Fiorello of ska-punk legends Less Than Jake. How do you follow that? the pressure is very much on at this point. Yet here we are with a follow-up, "Me, Myself and Something Else". This feels very similar to when Machine Head followed up "The Blackening" with "Unto The Locust". In the sense, we know the former was at that point the bands defining album, but we have to come into this new album openly or we are likely to find ways to hate it immediately.

Similarly to "Broken", there is a theme to "Me, Myself and Something Else". This time instead of it being the soft voice of a relaxation tape. It's news reports, somewhat parody ones at that, still with the lingering main topic of mental health flowing throughout the album. "Wake Up, The Monster Said", the first song on the release comes in with punchy riffs and pulsating brass hooks that lead perfectly into a skank-worthy rhythm. This directs us towards the first of many infectiously catchy choruses on the album. Right from the offset, we are treated to a proper anthem, designed to get people dancing, and singing along. "What You Burn" follows up, lyrically reading like the parodic news reports on the struggles of mental health. Notably, the tone is darker, something that spreads throughout the album, lyrically, musically and even delivery wise there is a proper gritted teeth attitude to the ska-punk on show here. The riffs are harsher, much like the sharp brass melodies and the vocal hooks. This is less third-wave and more skacore influenced without being overly heavy. And it leads perfectly into the Random-hand styled hard-hitter "I Bet They're Asleep in New York", which is an outright rock anthem hidden in the guise of a ska-punk track. We might have a skankable verse and Luke's quirky style vocals along with a bouncy dub interlude, the headbanging riffs in the chorus and the vigorous vocal style punches and grabs your attention. Venom is truly spat as the words "SCREAM MY NAME, I WON'T HEAR IT" hit your ears.

"Last One Standing Loses" lightens up the mood with the major key melodies in the vocals and instrumentation. For this one, Lewis Mcneice gets a chance to play lead vocalist for one of the most upbeat and bounciest songs on the album, equipped with yet another infectiously catch chorus with a melody that immediately gets stuck in your head. As the track progresses this feels more of a pop-punk anthem instead of a ska track as the upstrokes gradually get replaced by chords and crunchy hooks. "Also, Spiders" comes at us with more of those almost distinguishable brass hooks, it's another skankable anthem that makes you want to party in the verse and lose your voice in the chorus, screaming "DON'T TELL THEM ANYTHING, DON'T TELL THEM ANYTHING" and rocking out to the distorted barrage of riffage. Topically this one hits home for anyone who understands what it's like to bottle up emotions.

For at least 30 seconds of "A Beginners Guide To Fighting A Losing Battle" comes across as part two to the instrumental track "F.T.I.M" with some beautiful brass elements being pushed to the forefront. We are then treating to a lead vocal section from Mark Farthing, who does an admirable job. In my review of "Broken", I stated that Call Me Malcolm have mastered the art of creating hits and that sentiment continues as songs pile up on us with pure belters for choruses and they don't let up. Any of these few songs could end up being singles. The aurally pleasing vocal melodies hook you in.

We're interrupted by another parodic news skit, almost suggesting the end of side one and leading us to side two, where the amusingly named "NowsirawariswoN", (a mouthful at best) chimes in with the most 'Call Me Malcolm' song on the album, focusing on the best of the previous couple of albums. The upstrokes and brass hooks, the upbeat tempo and the quirky vocal style reminds me of much earlier Call Me Malcolm, it's somewhat silly and nostalgic. Yet once again the chorus packs that ska-punk or even mild skacore element in place with a punchy attitude balanced out with bouncy vocal hooks. "24 Months Only" lyrically is one of strongest tracks as it shows the responses to those who cope with depression from people that don't understand it. Cliché lines such as "Snap out of it/don't be so proud of it", "Try smile so you don't look depressed" or "You don't Look Sick" and "There's no shame in feeling bad/ I got sad once". Then added bleak reality in the chorus that to other people it's "not the end of the world, it's just the fucking end of mine" for anyone who is or was suffering. It's arguably one of the more important tracks on the album and it helps that these lyrics are backed up by another barrage of upbeat catchy hooks and chorus line that just urges you to join in. Much like a lot of these songs feel like singles, this one surely will be.

As much as I thought "A Beginners Guide To Fighting A Losing Battle" was part two to "F.T.I.M", "Please Still Try" certainly pays homage to "It's My Plagiary and I'm Going Home", the verse vocal melody is almost identical, just slowed down and more relaxed. The tone of chirpy third-wave ska-punk thrives on both tracks. It's the perfect easy-going track to let your guard down for "I Am A Disaster Movie" one of the more heavier tracks to make more of an impact. "Sleepwalk With Me" closes the album with some Skaciety/The Long Game feels to it, the opening horn line is somewhat reminiscent to the melody of "Step Back (Take A Look Around)" blended with a bit of "Wait", perhaps the fact these bands have shared enough stages it's easy to draw the comparison. But it's got that similar pop-punk/ska-punk combination down to a tee, that The Long Game has incorporated more on later material.

I came into "Me, Myself and Something Else" nervously, worried I'd be underwhelmed because it's not as good as "Broken". I'm not sure you can compare them because they are different sounding albums as a whole. "Broken" was arguably the best third-wave ska album of the last decade, Call Me Malcolm have perfected that sound, they don't need to do it again. So this outing is more experimental. Much like their peers in The Bar Stool Preachers and Popes of Chillitown did a couple of years ago, Call Me Malcolm got darker, in tune with the current times. At the same time following in a trend from Ghouls and The Long Game by edging slightly away from the overall ska sound in some tracks and using more pop-punk elements, making their sound more easily accessibly to punk fans that aren't predominantly into ska. It makes sense. this album has a bit of everything, it makes you want to sing, dance and rock out. It caters for a larger audience, in some ways this feels more like what Goldfinger did as their albums progressed. It's an album laden with so many anthems, I fear I'll never hear songs from "We Did This To Ourselves" played live again.


Download: NowsirawariswoN, 24 Months Only, Also, Spiders
For The Fans Of: Less Than Jake, Lead Shot Hazard, Goldfinger

Release date 15.05.2020
Wiretap Records

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