Article by Sarah Williams.
It’s a rare and unique pleasure to discover an album that soundtracks a passage of your life.
We’re swimming in music videos, live streams and status updates; bombarded with new music every day; our tastes made by algorithms and cookie-crumbs of personalised advertising. Where technology has opened the gates of production to any guitarist with a half-decent laptop, for listeners it’s created an overwhelming and (as much as we’d hate to admit it) often disposable deluge of singles and playlists.
Previously a big collector, even I have eschewed buying CDs and vinyl since I’ve had Spotify readily available on my phone. The majority of my listening takes places via playlists, either ones I’ve made myself or those curated by people I respect. Playlists are an exciting voyage of musical discovery and appeal to the romantic tradition of making mix tapes, but it’s a fast-paced and high-volume form of listening.
My life reflects my listening. I’m constantly on the verge of burn-out: trying to squeeze too many things into my waking hours. I listen to a vast amount of new music in the search for something genuinely interesting, but rarely do I take the time to fully absorb a new release.
Press Club have infiltrated my life in secret, and become the key to pressing the pause button when I need it. I saw them a couple of times earlier in the year, at Manchester Punk Festival and Groezrock. There’s no denying that they’re an exceptional band: everyone’s saying it and the jam-packed rooms of fans prove it.
When Wasted Energy was released on 16 August 2019, I was excited. Moreover, my social timelines exploded with ‘album of the year’ accolades from peers I respect.
I listened and I thought, “This is great, but I’m not sure it deserves the hype.”
Forever plagued by a snobbish and insecure habit of falling out-of-love with a band whenever they become successful (I’m talking about The Offspring, Green Day and Frank Turner here, not your local DIY heroes), I worried this old malady has come back to haunt me.
Despite my initial lack of excitement, I’ve found myself listening to Wasted Energy a lot. When someone pops round for tea, I stick it on in the background, as it’s easy to listen to. At work, I’ve put it on for the same reason – it’s good and inoffensive. In the car, it’s a great soundtrack to a long drive with a picky passenger.
Slowly, but surely, Wasted Energy crept into my life, gaining a slow-burn of repeat listens and charring an imprint on my daily consciousness. Until, on my way to work, I realised it’s my instant first choice when I open my library of music. I’m mouthing the words on public transport in that mildly embarrassing but fuck-it-I’m-hardly-the-maddest-person-on-the-bus way.
The album had become background listening for me but, one day suddenly Behave with its impassioned refrain, “Behave, just like a woman,” stood out to me. On the first few listens to Wasted Energy, Behave hadn’t shone particularly brightly, but once I was deeply wrapped in Press Club’s sound it suddenly exploded when I finally took the time to listen.
Now I’m picking up Wasted Energy multiple times as a day, feeling its embrace like a warm blanket, synesthesia sparking muted autumnal auburns and forest greens in my head when I listen. At a time when my life is changing, Wasted Energy is holding my hand, helping me with the transition. When I listen to it, I feel renewed.
The future is that I’ll play it to death, bordering on the point of private obsession. Like Fair Do’s’ Leopards and Darko’s Bonsai Mammoth in 2018 and 2017 respectively, I’ll repeat Wasted Energy until I know every intimate minutiae. Then I’ll drop it and it’ll become a warm shadow of that period of my life, intertwined with memories, smells and feelings of the autumn.
Self-described as, “The musical embodiment of the attitude of a generation experiencing impermanence in every way,” Press Club understand my passing obsession with their sound. It’s a theme on the album, through Obsession and Thinking About You.
All their recordings are put to tape live, using a console from the 70’s, rooting their recordings in a familiar, rich warmth, like a favourite jumper, whilst also capturing a transient sense of urgency. It’s the vintage sound that allows Press Club to stand out in a flood of new music. While fresh, frenetic and full of power, the guitars hark back to 90’s grunge, the rhythm conjures flashbacks of blurry basement shows, and the vocals call out glimpses of soul and timeless icons. Natalie Foster’s voice is a love affair in vocal form.
Now, three months after its release, I can’t even begin to fathom how an album could top Wasted Energy in 2019. It’s a time stamp on this passage of my life, and a repeat listen in ten years will instantly bring back these autumn memories.
Here’s the self-care I’d recommend for you today: find yourself an album and fall in love with it.
To experience the joy for yourself, you can pick up Wasted Energy on one of the most attractive vinyl pressings I’ve ever seen from a range of outlets. It’s out on Hassle Records now.