It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to any new punk music – although to be fair, the last stuff I was listening to probably wouldn’t have been called “punk” by original punks – I like a lot of the Fat Wreck Chords stuff and Rancid, early Green Day & Offspring and others (sacrilege, eh?).

I will admit, too, that I’m not a massive fan of earlier punk, finding it simplistic and repetitive – so I’m probably not the best person to review Gestures’ debut album Funny Games – which on first listen is exactly that sort of music: guitars bass and drums, playing together, mainly simple chord progressions and root notes.

Gestures list Black Flag as an influence – but I don’t really hear the discordant edge or the quite the same burning, manic energy to the music; I think Ramones, a darker version of the Undertones or maybe some Dead Kennedys or No Means No (but without the bass playing such a prominent driving role). The use of major and minor chords (as opposed to the simpler and less “musical” power chords) definitely gives this more of an old-school punk feel, as opposed to a hardcore feel, although it’s got a really modern sound. In places, it’s not a million miles away from the Distillers – who I prefer because of their slightly more melodic and varied output and the strength of their vocal hooks, and melodies – which Gestures don’t have on this album (‘tis much more shouty).

Funny Games also lacks the political or social commentary that Rollins brought to Black Flag – the lyrics here are often nihilistic (the opening track ‘Dialogue’ is simply “Shut the fuck up” repeated thirteen times) or darker: “Want to slit your throat and watch you bleed out / So shoot me in the head cos I’m already dead”.

As an album, it’s got a really tight musical identity, it’s really nicely put together, simple, without the production getting in the way and the sound is much fuller, deeper and more powerful than the 70’s and 80’s punk and hardcore bands I mentioned above.

I think that given my tastes, it would be law of diminishing returns giving repeated listening to this album as a whole (after the first seven or so), but it’s something that would definitely find a place on my shuffle play. The strength of the identity of the Gestures sound would work well when its strong sound can stand out in contrast to a variety of different rock music, whereas in the context of a full album, on repeated listening it just gets a wee bit same-y after a while.

If you have a strong taste for the darker side of original-style punk, I’d say it’s well worth giving it a go, though – I am sure you will find it more to your tastes than I did, and I don’t think it’s bad at all.

Gestures: Funny Games: Out Now on Punk Slime Recordings


Chris Oliver

I've been playing bass guitar and guitar for over half my life. I last played bass in in a band called Electromotive and as a singer-songwriter I have written songs about cheese and vajazzles (separate songs!). I started out listening to 60s, 70s and 80s rock as a kid and I was in to grunge and U.S. punk and ska in the 90s. Since then, I've broadened my tastes and I like the best of all styles of music, even country. I've been writing for Silent Radio since it started.