There might be something in the water supply over in Germany. This might just be pure speculation, but it also might explain all of the great punk rock that’s been coming out of the country right now. Just listen to acts like Hell & Back, No Weather Talks, WeSay, or Drag Arm Staggin’ and you’ll see that the current German punk scene is doing a lot of things right. The relatively young (but still far from being newcomers) Irish Handcuffs sits at the top of this scene, cementing their place with their first full length album, …hits close to home.
Much like stubbs, the band’s 2012 EP, …hits close to home is an incredibly smooth listen. In a lot of ways, it’s kind of like an early 2000’s Fat Wreck album: the energy is high, the hooks are sharp, the lyrics strike a chord. In other words, it’s damn fun. Irish Handcuffs have always had a good sense of letting their influences run through their sounds without ever sounding like a carbon copy of their heroes, and …hits close to home gets as close to perfecting that balance as possible.
If there are any complaints about the record, it’s that it could stand to be one or two songs longer. Ten songs clocking in at just over a half hour is a fine ratio, but the album feels like it is over far too quickly, so getting a couple of extra tracks would have been a good way to round out the listening experience.
With its emulation of American skate and melodic punk rock of the past decade, …hits close to home certainly lives up to its name. However, it also showcases the strengths of a non-American punk scene that has been steadily cranking out excellent band after band. If you’ve been missing out on what Germany has to offer these days (and really, you don’t have an excuse in this day and age of Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and the Internet in general), Irish Handcuffs’ debut album is a great starting point.
4.5 / 5 – Listen below.
RIYL: Smoke or Fire, American Steel, No Weather Talks