Monday, November 28, 2022

9 O’Clock Nasty couple satire with experimental punk in single ‘Sleepy Policeman’

It takes a specific skill to take the well-trodden path of garage rock – with the most classic of spins, at that – and infuse it with politically-coloured satire without producing something already heard or excessively over the top.

 Leicester’s 9 O’Clock Nasty have managed this feat with their latest single, ‘Sleepy Policeman’, a track that adopts a tongue-in-cheek point of view to deliver an all-too-relevant criticism of the way in which law enforcement disregards crimes that are aimed against the weakest people in society.

 Do not, however, be daunted by such an important subject matter: there is a reason why the Leicester outfit has garnered a reputation for quirkiness and fun-sounding tunes, and their fingerprints are all over this track, too, with unique vocals, an entrancing bass line that makes this a song which would not be out of place at a certain sort of rave, and an intense rhythm which seems a perfect fit for live delivery.

Perhaps the most intriguing feature of this track, aside from the insightful, cutting lyrics (all but shouted in the listener’s ears with deliberate urgency, an excellent vehicle for the song’s satirical spirit), is the way in which it manages to call back to the great classics of the past while also being remarkably experimental. 9 O’Clock Nasty’s work has been described as ‘dub-punk’ in the past: the dub element can certainly be heard here, as can influences which come from electronica, psychedelic rock, and late-60s classic rock. There is a lot to this track, and those who might hear echoes of the likes of The Misfits, early Pink Floyd, or even Madness in it would not be off in their judgement, although the track also has an extremely contemporary sound. The rhythm section is largely responsible for the latter: the bass line is a dominant feature in the track, contributing to its hammering feeling while also remaining fun and danceable.

The balance of classic punk anger, cutting humour, dance-friendly groove and sharp guitars – there is a number of memorable riffs running through the whole track from top to bottom – is a difficult one to strike, but this track manages to satisfy all of its ambitions while remaining a coherent whole and coming across, at the end of the day, as more than the sum of its parts. The definition of garage rock, which could easily be summoned by their earlier works, is starting to feel somewhat too tight for 9 O’Clock Nasty, and it is a true pleasure to see a rock-punk act push the envelope in a way that is fully coherent with the spirit of the genre and innovative in an intriguing way. It will certainly be impossible to listen to this track and still remain sleepy.

Chiara Strazzulla


Image: Sleepy Policeman’ Official Single Cover

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