Bishops Green is a band that shows us how timeless classic punk really is. They take the best parts of 77 punk and old school Oi!, throw in some melody, and finish it off with a modern street punk edge. The bands’ sophomore album A Chance to Change took me by surprise and really grew on me. It’s impassioned, energetic, and catchy. And one of the best albums I’ve heard so far this year.
The music seems like typical street punk fare at first, with mid-tempo drums behind driving bass and guitar. But further listens reveal there is more going on. Dark undertones and shredding guitar solos permeate the entire album, giving the whole thing a slight post-punk and classic rock sound behind the street punk. This works surprisingly well with lead singer Greg Huff’s more melodic approach to vocals. Songs like “Invisible” and “Specter” in particular showcase this dark melodicism and come out sounding like they could have been classic TSOL songs.
Bishops Greens biggest accomplishment on this album is how catchy almost every song is. After just a few listens I was singing the chorus to “Government Lies” all day: “Take what you want / push our rights aside / make rules for yourself / rules for yourself!” This is an album full of anthems. From barn-burners like “Caged,” to the desperate cries in “We Got Nothing,” A Chance to Change will get in your head and have you singing along in no time.
While most of the album is filled with great songs, there are some that seem to fall short of their comrades. “Dead and Gone” just never really grabbed my attention, and album opener “Lost Generation” starts off a little underwhelming before leading into an otherwise spectacular album. “Can’t Walk Away,” the last song on the vinyl version, feels like it was building up to an epic climax that never got there. I think “Soldier,” the bonus track on the digital version, serves as a better closer.
Bishops Green has reminded me why I was so drawn to street punk as an angry youth. It was passion and fury in a package I could sing along with at the top of my lungs. The adult me, that’s just a little less angry and has a bigger appreciation for melody, got hooked on the melodic street punk in A Chance to Change. Now I’m excited to see what the band, and the genre as a whole, does in the future.