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Die Hard Habits - Hey You! (Brit Street Records)

8 February 2024

The term “post-punk” can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. That’s the problem with genre labels: they cause more problems than they solve. (As a music journalist, I can only apologise for their invention. Not personally, but I’m happy to speak for my people. Sorry!) But if the term post-punk is something that you associate with unbridled creativity, angular guitars, relentless bass lines and the sort of swagger and sensibility, attitude and urgency handed down from those who fought first-hand in the trenches of the punk wars, then Die Hard Habits is post-punk. And then some.

Their new EP, Hey You! has everything I have just described. The opening title track has all that by itself, including a lovely, bruised and brooding, crawling, Cure-esque bass line and cavernous, reverb-drenched walls of guitars. Nice. But it is “Arkansas” that follows that grabbed me. Imagine if The George Satellites took their Jack Daniels meets Chuck Berry sound, threw it down a lift shaft and then knocked what remained back into shape and took it into the studio. Well, that!

“Checkin Me Out” sounds like Die Hard Habits might be (and if not, then they should be) on nodding terms with The Wildhearts (medically proven to be the best band in the world), and “Kennedy” shows that they don’t have to have their foot on the gas all of the time. Songs like this are great; they are like the eye of the storm, and remind the listener of the creativity and skill that goes on in the engine room of such bands, something often lost in the squalling maelstrom of noise and effect, sturm und drang that gets applied later. “Tell The Neighbors” rounds things off nicely with another new twist. A ska-infused, bass-driven slice of jaunty, joyous, upbeat raucousness that would have fitted right into the UK’s two-tone scene back in the day.

Like I said on the way in, post-punk can mean all things to all people and not in a particularly helpful way. And with the sonic range covered on this marvellous EP, I think the term just got less defined rather than better understood. Huh! That’s genres for you, always letting you down.