Pop/Punk….hmmmm. Ok, I will set aside the view I have that the phrase is somewhat of a contradiction in terms. I will also set aside my view that if Punk meant anything it was a D.I.Y. ethos which stripped away worries about levels of musicianship, record production and the overblown sense of importance Rock felt it had in the mid-late ’70’s. Therefore, most of the bands who call themselves ‘ Punk’ now, really aren’t Punk at all. But I’m just being an old fart I guess. I know what Pop/Punk means in terms of contemporary music and I can see its appeal. I’d also rather young people got into music made on real instruments than the alternative. At its best, the genre has lots to enjoy. Fall Out Boy in particular do what they do with a certain amount of charm, wit and self-parody and write a lot of very catchy songs. I am certainly not ‘against’ Pop/Punk and I will give anything, what I believe is, a fair ear. I also try to judge bands against the standard of their genre as opposed to my own set of ‘what I like’.
So, having got that off my chest, how do Foreign Affairs from Armagh stack up against the rest? Well, they certainly tick all the boxes of, what I understand to be, Pop/Punk. ‘Houston’ has the clean guitar sound followed by the ‘fast-right-hand riff’. It has the multi-layered ‘wooahs’ and the sweetly sung verses and that anthemic/crescendo-based quality prevalent in this genre. It even has a middle 8 straight off a Blink 182 record. In short, it does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a good enough song for people to latch onto. But, my concerns would be two-fold.
Firstly, there are bands out there in NI already (Sethway for instance) who do this style of music better, who have songs recorded to a better quality (even allowing for ‘Houston’ being self-produced/funded) and who are further along the road in terms of getting somewhere near the big prize. My second concern is that, Pop/Punk, as with any genre you care to mention, has its time and my feeling is Pop/Punk had its zenith several years ago. Therefore, those bands trying to break through now in this genre may find that record companies are looking for the next new thing, not the next band who can sound like Blink 182. So, anyone playing this genre now looking for a record deal will have to be really exceptional or find some key difference that sets them apart.
I hope I am wrong because, Foreign Affairs show a decent ear for a melody/tune. Check them out for yourself at https://www.facebook.com/ForeignAffairsNI