The last few years have seen a seismic wave of bands amalgamating the theme of self-lacerating and introspective lyrics of youth constrained and under-stimulated, supported by a backdrop of skater-punk aesthetic and lifestyle choices of heady nihilism and mingled with the lust for partying to drown out the agony. Two bands have proven themselves to be riding upon the forefront of this fresh wave of angst and teenage anxiety, Gnarwolves being the first with their anthemic thrashes of brattish punk cacophony and Bloody Knees being the second.
The Cambridge four piece have always of seemed to of found themselves mingling with the right crowd, with their first jump into a much bigger pond than what they were first swimming in being made courtesy of Art Is Hard when they released the Bloody Knees/Birdskulls 7″ split. Since then, constant touring alongside mates The Magic Gang and being present at the anarchic type events such as the KHP all-dayer back in June (the infamous night where the roof caved in due to the incessant boisterousness of the crowd) means that the carnage surrounding Bloody Knees has more than enough evidence supporting itself. ‘The Stitches EP’ is now the next jump the band is making in solidifying their slacker, emo drenched, brat punk sound.
The flurry of phaser soaked guitar and excitable clatter of drums being hit with adolescent fury is the welcoming embrace from the EP’s opener, ‘Bury Me’. From the first few seconds, the notion that the band have matured in terms of sound since the days of the first self-titled ‘Bloody Knees EP’ is all too apparent. However, the legacy of the self-lacerating lyrics packaged up in the raucous party vibe exterior is still there, with Bradley Griffiths pushing his voicebox to ripping point as he sings the morbid lines of “cut off my ears / rip out my tongue / yeah that sounds like fun” over a dazzling array of gritty, minced and distorted guitar. ‘Luckless’ carries on the same feelings, but in a less animated manner, this time narrating the lament of a kid with no life prospects but still trying to stay positive all the same.
Grunge and Emo are the formula for much of Bloody Knees palpable sound, with instrumentation carrying on an ethereal sound that feels like you’re drifting along in a haze of TV like static (most likely the same type of static you’d get after you pass out and the TV gives up from the Tony Hawks Pro Skater 4 marathon that BK obviously regularly partake in), and you’re put in a nebulous of kaleidoscopic delusion filled with buzz-saw like guitars and ray-gun sounding lead lines. This can all be said for the beat-down opening and subsequent verse found in ‘Never Change’, grunge filled and anthemic and no doubt a head-bobbing interlude at shows to give respite to the thrash outs.
Title track ‘Stitches‘ and following EP single ‘Daydream’ continue to support the same type of mantra proclaimed throughout the rest of the record, with the ideas of apathetic lethargy and uncaring attitudes to your own physical well-being constantly smattered across most of the lyrics. All of this leads up to ‘Garbage Brain’, the climatic closer of the record, and the most reflective and adventurous Bloody Knees have been so far. Churning through a slow groove, glittering with sparkle from the guitars and sonic nooks and cranny’s that dwell amongst the track, this is Bloody Knees sitting back on the sofa amongst the pizza boxes, snapped skatedecks and empty cans of Dragon Soop, and asking, “Is there more to life?”
Hopefully, when they get around to finding an answer to that question, it is a resounding ‘no’, because despite all the anxiety and morbid looks at ones life, Bloody Knees have a sound which is so undeniably fun, catchy and party inducing, that any change in lifestyle would be detrimental to all what this record has worked for, and that is to just not care and enjoy yourself, even if life is falling apart at the seams. Stitches is a climatic triumph for Bloody Knees, as it shows the band progressing, without them forgetting or compromising what they stood for in the first place; anarchy and the unrestrained lust to just go skate and have fun.