Review: Great Cynics- POSI (Specialist Subject)

Posted: April 16, 2017 in Reviews

POSI is a great advert for the UK’s DIY punk scene: melodically pleasing, without being cheesy; varied and engaging; lyrically inventive; and to top it off, an anti-The Sun song. Great Cynics play a kind of punk-y indie rock that feels grounded and relatable. They have evolved their sound a little since 2015’s I Feel Weird, partly because of the departure of bassist Iona Cairns (who is now doing her own thing in the fantastic Shit Present). As an album, I feel POSI works better as a body of work, with musical and thematic glue linking each song together, but Great Cynics don’t quite reach the heights of the stand-outs from the previous record (see: “North Street”; “Lost in You”).

I don’t know why it is (and perhaps I need to re-visit) but I couldn’t get into much Great Cynics did pre-I Feel Weird, but I now regard them as one of the cornerstones of the UK underground indie/punk scene. I think what differentiates Great Cynics from the masses, in a similar way to Martha, is both their inventiveness in songwriting and their personal touch. After listening to POSI, you feel as if you have taken a dive into lead singer Giles’s brain for half an hour. It’s the tales of the ordinary and everyday which do this most effectively: over the course of POSI, we hear about Giles watching Netflix on somebody else’s account, picking up a pack of Tyskies and standing outside Sainsbury’s in the rain.

Of course, all of this detailing of the commonplace may fall short if it didn’t resonate with bigger themes and ideas. POSI is essentially all about trying to remain hopeful and optimistic while living in London (“the most expensive place on Earth”) and going through all that entails. Like Apologies, I Have None’s debut album, POSI gives an insight into what it takes it get through day-to-day life in London (and all the friendships, romances, heartbreaks, touring that goes with that), but, its ultimate optimism is in contrast to the former.  Apologies sang about London being a ‘thief’ who made off with their perseverance and mental health; Great Cynics actually have a chorus where they proclaim that “happiness is a place in London”. Though, while everything on POSI is loosely framed around London, the best moments on the record concern the romantic: the euphoric, hook-filled indie rock of “Butterfly Net” and “Summer At Home” particularly stand out, the latter with the instantly memorable closing lines: “You don’t think that you’re special/ It’s what makes you special”. The other highlight on the album is where Great Cynics go overtly political with “Don’t Buy the Sun”, the first time that we hear Giles properly angry, saving his wrath for a tabloid rag and the hate that it perpetuates (and, in doing so, forms a great duo with Zatopeks’ own “Daily Mail”).

Check it out here: https://specialistsubject.bandcamp.com/album/posi

DB

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