Chances are if you’ve been following underground UK punk for the last couple of years, you’ll be familiar with The Kenneths. They’ve certainly been doing enough to get their name out there, with steady streams of EPs already under their belts, and live credits with everyone from The Offspring and Yellowcard to Juliette And The Licks to Lianne La Havas. Their grind is definitely paying dividends too, catching the attention on Decendents’ Bill Stevenson with whom they recorded their last EP, and The Strokes and Jamie T producer Ben Baptie for Ex.
And really, if you’ve heard The Kenneths by now, Ex should come as no surprise – short, snotty bursts of classic punk that play to distinctly rough-and-ready sensibilities. It’s not much of a deviation from their previous work at all, and really only sets to build on what they’ve already got with a track like Model Man, seeing frontman Josh Weller dip into the unrefined, wilder vocal style of so many classic punk staples. For the most part, this is all fine, and when put alongside drummer Aicha Djidjelli’s cleaner, sweeter tones on Answer Machine – or letting her take over entirely on Favourite Ex – there’s an interesting dynamic there that mirrors their slightly jagged pop-punk presentation.
Obviously this isn’t exactly groundbreaking stuff, and The Kenneths are a considerable distance from being innovative. That’s probably the biggest failing with Ex, in that the punk tones used feel pretty basic with little room to build on. It’s telling that most of these tracks average at about two-and-a-half minutes, as they don’t really develop beyond snappy blasts of modern vitriol. They’re good blasts, and The Kenneths aren’t exactly holding back when it comes to the vivacity of their brand of punk, but there’s not a lot here, and for a band who’ve been steadily releasing EPs with no indication of a full-length yet, that’s pretty disappointing.
Still, there are far worse ways to kill about ten minutes than this, and even if they aren’t particularly honing their skills with each release, Ex is a solid reminder of what The Kenneths are capable of. Until they do get around to releasing an album, it’s debatable whether they get further than this, but it’s not as if this is totally unworthy of a listen. Just don’t go in expecting anything mindblowing.
For fans of: The Clash, Green Day, Ramones
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Ex’ by The Kenneths is released on 20th April.