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Album Review: Banquets - Top Button, Bottom Shelf

Following their split with Mayflower earlier this summer, Banquets continue to roll with the punches as they release their debut full-length album of catchy and anthemic punk rock. After a couple of EP’s and splits that unveiled flashes of promise (as well as a nod towards good cinematic taste with ‘This Is Our Concern, Dude’), ‘Top Button, Bottom Shelf’ certainly hits hard. Will Miller (Beartrap PR) was right when he pegged them as “a breath of fresh air in a crowded scene”.

With rough-edged vocals, immense replay value, and relentless stores of energy, Banquets here are reminiscent of Rise Against circa ‘The Sufferer and the Witness’. They demonstrate an impressive ability to pack hooks and catchy choruses into every minute without leaning towards sappy or sickly pop-punk sensibilities, and the end result is fiercely executed and powerfully sincere.

Short and simple, intro ‘377’ serves to pull you into the rest of the album much in the way that a friend would call you up to drag you out – casual, persuasive, and with a mind bent towards fun. Running in the same vein as bands like Fireworks, Banquets achieve an effortlessly youthful vibe without sounding contrived. Sunny harmonies, gang chants, and cutting guitar lines are perfectly balanced in clear and crisp production.

It’s hard to pin-point particular tracks on an album that bombards you repeatedly with fresh melodies without spending a serious amount of time with it, but ‘Heads Down, Thumbs Up’ definitely stands out. Not just because it’s the only track that softly nods its head before launching straight into the circle-pit, but it contains a particularly memorable chorus and features some incredibly tight drumming towards the end. ‘Fireplug’ and ‘Sometimes a Wolf’ are also moments for a windows-down-stereo-up situation.

Banquets have a very strong sound and a unique energy about them, the downside of which means that some of the songs sound a bit samey and can blur into one another. ‘Top Button Bottom Shelf’ is so tightly stuffed with memorable moments that it’s difficult to hold them all in your head and appreciate them to the extent they should be, but that’s nothing a few good listens are the kind of won’t fix. Above all, Banquets feel like a group of close friends inviting you in to their party. They're a band you laugh over spilled beer too, and you will end up with one messy floor and a dozen hoarse throats after you’re through with this album.


‘Top Button Bottom Shelf’ is out now on Black Numbers.

Emma Garland

Alter The Press!