Since the early 1990s the world has seen no great shortage of punk rock bands with serious attitude. As they prepare to release their self-titled sixth studio album, Left Alone have over twelve years' experience to their name and a unique Ska gimmick that sees them standing right out from the crowd.
Opener Spiked With Pain sees the listener thrown into the deep end of what sounds like a fiercely whirling plunge pool with skank at the surface and hard rock in the heart of its ice cool vortex. The racing beat and laddish backing cries set the energetic tone for this relentless and vibrant collection.
Equally as rowdy is the throat-destroying Branded which holds the momentum and maintains a good balance of DIY trash rock with tuneful, danceable pop music; the audience's listening pleasure never compromised by the band's tendency to experiment and play around with the punk formula.
Sad Story brings the first glimpse of pure unadulterated Ska to the table. With chaotic elements of Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake and classic British acts The Specials and Madness, the sound is playful and dancefloor-friendly while still holding onto the angst that defines all great punk.
Introducing the first instantly catchy chorus, Porcelain is loud, brash and infectious with undertones of Sum 41 and Blink182's mainstream dance appeal. It's one of those annoying occasions where you'll find yourself needing to sing along before you've had a chance to learn any of the words.
With fifteen fast-paced and frantic tracks on the album and only a short 30-second instrumental called Interlude in which to catch a breath, Left Alone is a mammoth triumph in terms of getting value for money from your dancing shoes.
That said, however, it could be that having so many tracks has worked to the detriment of the record. The chances are that ears will be flagging by the time later tracks such as Empty and Low Fidelity are reached.
The band should perhaps have considered including fewer tracks by weeding out some of the samey, less memorable songs to prevent the overall effect from being diluted in such a way that might result in boredom.
As it is, this is a great album that may well have been mind-blowing had some of the deadwood removed. There's just too much here to truly appreciate what the band have achieved musically. If only our attention spans were limitless, this could well have formed a formidable piece of punk history.
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FemaleFirst - Anthony Hill