I love finding new music. To this day, as a show-going, vinyl-spinning, vest-wearing punk— nothing beats finding a young band with chops to spare. Goodbye Blue Monday is the latest to enter my rotation, based on the recommendation of other internet punks, and I think I have to jump on the bandwagon. If anything, I’m downplaying it. Their EP, The Sickness, The Shame is fantastic. Three perfect pop punk bangers from a Scottish four-piece, sang with a mouth that might as well an open wound. The worst I can say is I wish there was more.
I think the key appeal of The Sickness, The Shame, at least for me, is its confessional nature. We’ve seen it before in bands like Against Me! and Off With Their Heads, where vulnerable lyrics reach a level of intimacy they force you into a recoil. Goodbye Blue Monday is in the same game, with similarly personal lyrics focusing in on frontman Graham Lough’s bipolar disorder. The concept isn’t approached as much as it is attacked, it becomes a pinata that needs to be smashed, or an effigy that needs to burned– by the time the three songs finish, it becomes a picnic savaged by wild animals. But, that’s punk for you. There’s an aggression here, a plaintive, angry cry shouting down mental illness, and it’s a thrill to join.
The songs themselves are excellent, and there being only three, a dud would stand out a lot more. The EP opens with “Fungus,” a hearty pop punk number whose first lyrics state, “If you stare at a blank wall long enough/ You’ll start to see patterns where there are none. Little flecks of paint or smears or dry rot/ Little stains of what you’ve become.” It’s extremely catchy, like all the songs on The Sickness, The Shame, showing that at the core of this misery-punk outfit, there are some real songwriting chops as well. “Take Your Pills” would probably be the single of the bunch, propelled by its opening guitar riff and declarative, shout-along title. “Choke ‘em all down, choke ‘em all down!” is the sort of lyric you can imagine on the lips of a couple hundred kids, crammed to capacity in a basement.
The EP ends with the title track. “The Sickness, The Shame” is a summation of the album’s concept, a grand rendering of life with bipolar disorder. It’s also just damn catchy, an ear worm that burrows into your brain with imagery from another life. One of the things I love most about this album, but also the title track in particular, is that these songs feel written. There are a lot of words here, and they explore their topics exceedingly well. The final product feels shaped by the words as their foundation, rather than just existing as a delivery system for a vocal melody.
The Sickness, The Shame is a triumph of songwriting as well as introspection. These are the types of bands that catch your ear and hold it tight, there’s a perspective here, something unique that can continue to grow and captivate. Goodbye Blue Monday is a band on the verge of joining the conversation, all they need now is more songs.