Cock Sparrer - Here We Stand
Record Label: Pirate Press Records
Release Date: July 21, 2009
Longevity isn’t something that pop-punk (or more appropriately, “Oi!”) bands are known to possess, but the Englanders in Cock Sparrer must not have gotten that memo. Colin McFaull (vocals), Mickey Beaufoy (lead guitarist), Steve Burgess (bass), Daryl Smith (guitar), and Steve Bruce (drums) are still running on their fifth full length release, Here We Stand; however, are the boys running out of gas? Well, the simple answer is no, but the more advanced answer is that they are running on half-empty. The good songs on this offering, though, are enough to change that perspective to a more optimistic one of declaring their tank to be half-full. Several songs are completely successful, while others are only successful in parts, because the choruses on some tracks tend to just fall flat. All that being said, though, Cock Sparrer (formed in 1972) have crafted a solid effort that genuinely impressed me a healthy amount of the time.
“Too Late” features a standard pop-punk guitar pattern to open the record, but it just isn’t as attention-grabbing as the first track of an album should be. The chorus, though, is good as are the background vocals behind McFaull as he sings “tomorrow will be too late.” “Did You Have a Nice Life without Me?” opens up with solid, brisk drums subsequently followed by good guitar riffs, an especially good bridge, and quality lyrics as McFaull sings about choosing his band over a girl and wondering how she fared without him. Up next is “Gotta Get Out” with verses to get the feet tapping and a fist-pumping Ramones-esque chorus. The problem with this song, though, is that it overstays its welcome a little too much, although the lyrics are again good as they revolve around being abandoned.
“Spirit of ‘76” is the album’s best offering complete with excellent riffs, gang vocals, a great solo by Beaufoy, and a memorable chorus as the boys sing “Back to basics, guitar picks, drumsticks – spirit of ’76!” Following this stunner is a slower number entitled “So Many Things.” It isn’t bad but it really isn’t anything special either, and aside from good lyrics and an impressive solo, it is completely passable. “Suicide Girls” opens up with palm muted guitars and gradually builds up into a very catchy number with some quality bass work. Beaufoy again shines on guitar, and the song fades out well with the gang vocals, making it truly worth many more listens. Track seven is “Despite All This,” featuring an acoustic opening that ultimately leads up to a rare lackluster bridge before ending just like it began.
“Don’t Stop” also fails to fully deliver as it isn’t bad, but certainly won’t beg for more plays. The best part of the song is the bridge where Beaufoy dazzles yet again on the guitar while McFaull sings lyrics that include: “People come and people go/there’s a thousand faces I’ll never know.” Next in line is “Will You?” featuring good drums and verses that are sure to get the listener moving, but the chorus is unimpressive. Fortunately, Beaufoy and Bruce rescue the song in the bridge by making full use of their talents on drums and guitar respectively. Meanwhile, McFaull sings of the importance of a particular person in his life by saying “If you wait for me, I can see it through.” “Time to Make Your Move” kicks in quickly thereafter and features some very impressive verses. The chorus, though, does not follow suit, which has become part of the norm at this point, and Beaufoy shines on guitar during the bridge, which has also become a staple of this record. “Last Orders” is a fun song with excellent dueling guitars and vocals that revolve around celebrating after success with a girl. The song soon takes a humorous turn, though, as McFaull sings of how he ultimately ends up being punched in the jaw by that very same girl.
“True to Yourself” opens up with palm-muted guitars again and houses a good pre-chorus full of energy but also an uneventful chorus with McFaull singing “Always be true to yourself.” Also, believe it or not, the bridge is good! Following this song is “Sussed,” a faster and harder song with a fiery bass line and an expectedly good guitar solo. However, the chorus of “I sussed you out” is just too repetitive and weighs the song down. Closing out the record is “Better Than This,” and it ends things the right way. The opening is strong with good guitars, and this chorus delivers after so many had come up short. The bridge is excellent and the whole song compels the listener to move around as McFaull declares “So I won’t cry for good times I’ve missed, ‘cos’ it don’t get better than this.” This track is a legitimately good song with excellent lyrical content about enjoying life no matter what.
Here We Stand is a record that impresses and then fails to impress, but it is worthy of more than one listen. The bridges are the best parts of almost all of the songs, and the band needs to try to devote their time to making the entirety of the record’s tracks as good as those small portions. They especially need to work on the choruses, as they just are not as catchy as the verses and bridges. Basically, these choruses lack an important piece of the puzzle in this type of music: the sing-a-long factor. However, Cock Sparrer certainly prove they have the ability to craft quality melodies in songs like “Spirit of ‘76” and “Suicide Girls.” Ultimately, then, these men make a statement that there is still gas in their tanks after thirty-seven years, and that in and of itself is worthy of commendation.