EP Review: Party Hardly – 'Modern Strife Is Snobbish'
Party Hardly’s sophomore EP shows a development and maturity as a band and as songwriters.
Modern Strife Is Snobbish represents a band finding their sound, developing it, and making it their own. Inspired by the “dark, gritty undertones” of their hometown Leeds, the songs on that make up this stunning EP are Party Hardly’s “favourite to play live.”
Yowl come to mind when listening to Modern Life…, particularly in the first track ‘Forged Smile’. It’s a fantastic opener – a statement of intent as every opening song should be. It’s an intelligent indie-come-post-punk piece filled with lots of melancholic melody and poeticism. Vocally, Wire’s later releases are comparable, but this is by no means a cop out. This is obviously a Party Hardly song. The outro is interesting, as the band move to a major key progression built around infectious jangly guitars.
The two previously released singles make it on to the EP – ‘The Hopskotch Man’ and ‘Rats in the Kitchen’. First single ‘The Hopskotch Man’ is a very 80s/90s jangle pop tune that is fascinating musically and lyrically, as the narrator confronts the demonic figure of the Hopskotch Man. Here, we hear the quirkiness of Party Hardly. On first listen, it is the jangly, laid-back guitar pop song. But the rhythms are strange and the subject bizarre. So, there is a hint of bands such as the Pixies here.
Closer ‘Rats in the Kitchen’ rounds the EP off perfectly – a furious punk rock punch that sticks two fingers up at the demonizing older generations. But the stand out track on Modern Strife… has to be the ‘interim song’ between the two singles ‘Five a Day’. It flows effortlessly from ‘Hopskotch’ into ‘Rats’. In such a short song, Party Hardly go from an intense build up of the ticking of a cymbal and a bending edgy guitar note into a great indie-punk banger. It’s full of cool little guitar riffs and licks and a big and loud chorus. Just to top it off, the vocals sound almost bored and monotone in the Mike Skinner-esque delivery that you can’t get enough of.
If you’re into the post-punk boom in the UK right now, you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t check out Party Hardly, and Modern Strife Is Snobbish is the best place to start.
Words by Matthew Brocklehurst