You’ve got to hand it to Vice Squad chanteuse Beki Bond – almost alone amongst singers of her vintage, of any gender, her voice really does seem to get better and better as she gets older.
On new VS album Battle of Britain she is the undoubted star of the show, a real diamond in a sometimes rough collection of songs. When it’s good – the first three songs Ruination, I Dare To Breathe and When You Were 17, for instance, are as good as anything the band has recorded since the early eighties – it’s very good indeed. Actually it’s better than that, it’s a total affirmation of everything that’s great about melodic British street punk, from the ferocity of the first mentioned to the singalong, beer in hand and tear in eye bonhomie of the last. But unfortunately the band can’t quite keep up the quality over the course of the full thirteen songs, meaning perhaps that history will come to see Battle of Britain as a good, perhaps very good, but not great album overall.
Ignored to Death has a flesh crawling, Ruts-ish claustrophobia about it, but when you return to the album for repeated listens you realise that the band have loaded most of the good stuff into the first half of the record. After that it’ a bit hit n’miss, with the excellent penultimate track You Can’t Fool All of the People an exception to the general rule on ‘Side Two’ of more perspiration than inspiration.
Old punks of a political bent will love the lyrical slant of the record – the title track could just as well have been penned in 1982 as 2020, sentiment wise – and, although there may be a query on the quality of some of the tracks here, there is absolutely no doubting the band’s sincerity or integrity. And if your affinity with punk was more to do with cider and glue, well, there’s plenty here for you too; so, for all my misgivings, I’m going to give Battle of Britain a pass – give it a go if studded leather and fishnets still get the juices flowing…
Battle of Britain releases on October 16th.