Release Date: 14th May 2021
Label: Reckless Yes
For Fans Of: Muncie Girls, Weezer, Great Cynics
One of the great challenges of growing up is maturing without losing all we love about childhood: Our silliness, sense of wonder and boundless playfulness. The great question of aging, then, is not so much “How do I pay bills?” But: “How do I make sure there’s enough left in the budget for whimsy?” And: “How do you balance all this and still be taken seriously?”
Fightmilk’s new record, Contender tackles these questions head on.
Their sophomore album boasts a maturer sound. It fleshes out 2018’s Not With That Attitude, losing some of it’s hammy rhymes and pop-punk dramatics while still keeping the album’s attitude and punky feel. (That may have been fine for a debut, but Fightmilk have grown since then—and their sound demands you recognize this.)
The record overflows with personality, while lead singer Lily Rae’s lyrics feel like a chat over a pint. The hooks are ear worms you hope never leave you, and the music is classic pop-punk without ever feeling stale. Their instincts are flawless, seeming to know exactly when to hold back and when to let rip. It’s old-school Weezer meets Muncie Girls, with all the distortion, fun and heartfelt words you’d imagine.
The album spans topics from the serious to the absurd—sometimes in the same song. ‘I’m Starting to Think You Don’t Even Want To Go’ may be a break-up song, but it’s also a great diatribe on the commitment needed for successful space travel (“Watching Interstellar didn’t make it better, reading Carl Sagan looking kind of vacant, you say you’re buying time but you’re always late, I’m starting to think you don’t even want to go to space.”) The result is a song that makes you laugh and validates your feelings in the same four minutes—and it’s exactly the kind of whimsical approach to mature topics that makes Contender shine.
Meanwhile the tongue-half-in-cheek bop ‘Cool Cool Girl’—a song about an issue you never really grow out of: fitting in—combines soaring riffs with a casual detachment. If pretending not to care about being cool is the new cool, then Rae ought to be crowned our new queen.
But Contender’s best moments might be when the music is at its most serious. The brooding and somber ‘Girls Don’t Want to Have Fun’ is the perfect answer to Cyndi Lauper’s prototypical party-starting banger—despite the three-decade gap between songs. The subtle synths move through the background, stirring something deep within before the verse even starts. Showing uncharacteristic constraint, the London four-piece keeps it moody and mid-tempo. The downbeat instrumentation allows Rae’s candid and playful approach to adulthood shine, with the ultimate feeling being akin to paying a bill on time in your Sesame Street pyjamas.
Contender makes you feel good. It’s mature pop-punk for those millennials who lost their angst but still want to rock. The maturity suits Fightmilk, too, allowing them to explore both the “pop” and “punk” of their genre. So throw on your sensible shoes, get out your skateboard and blast one of the summer’s funnest albums.
Recommended Tracks: I’m Starting to Think You Don’t Even Want To Go