Now that the band has reached out a bit and found some fresh and receptive ears (the Fish & Chips EP which came out last year helped toward that end) it’s no surprise that Harrington Saints‘ next step was to reissue their Pride & Tradition album to help reel in the new recruits who are excited for more. This reissue goes a long way toward that end too; with a foil-embossed cover and a transparent, colorless vinyl pressing enhanced by a splash of blaze orange in the record’s center (which makes it look as though the record has been tagged), anyone who sees it will be left with the sense that this record came right off the street – right out of the gutter – and is ready to take a swing at anyone listening. It’s a really potent impression made – and that’s before one sinks a stylus into it to see what it’s all about.
…And after the needle DOES sink into the medium, THEN listeners will really get a definitive earful of what the band is all about.
From the moment needle touched vinyl and “OCD” kicks the going into gear (rather ironically – but not every listener will necessarily realize that), listeners will know the difference between who Harrington Saints once were and who the band has become. On the Fish & Chips EP, the drive and direction is one headed closer to skate punk and/or melodic hardcore but, here, the sound is steeped in boot boy punk with some street-y crunch. Singer Darrel Wojick’s delivery is all hoarse bark here and he rasps about anger, frustration and mental illness (check out lines like “I’m just a prisoner of my rage/ One less thing I have say/ Locked in my brain can’t get away/ Gotta get it right or there’s hell to pay”) but, as one digs deeper, it’s possible to find a little more than one might expect. Between the aggressive, hamfisted guitar chords, those who listen closely will find the torment which actually comes with obsessive compulsive disorder (“Odds or evens could mean the end/ No such thing as peace within/ So I wait here in my mind/ Looking for something I’ll never find”); that sort of intelligence and genuine catharsis and understanding is not is not a common sort (certainly not for punk or hardcore), and that it’s here can easily inspire those listening to dig a little deeper.
What they find beneath the surface on the A-side of Pride & Tradition is a sensibility which holds up as a subtle brand apart from the punk and hardcore norm. For example, while “Revolution” comes off as sounding like the newest answer to the complaint that Agnostic Front hasn’t released a punk album in a while, those who dig a little deeper will find a fairly incisive complaint about the financial gap between social classes that occupying Wall Street doesn’t really match (“Can’t drop a dime when you’re picking up trash” says it all). That same sort of delivery can be found in “Saturdays In The Sun”; while the track feels like it’s all about good times and getting a tan on a freshly shorn head (if the chorus isn’t about that, I’ve clearly missed the whole point), the real focus here is on financial inequality – be it regional, national or global. Here, the band namechecks locations which have had booms and gone bust (like East London, Houston, Oakland, San Jose and the East Bay) and presents them all in a manner which feels genuinely astute but, unless listeners knock what they’re looking for, the sound just makes it fun to bounce along to – it’s a great balance, in that way.
The B-side of the album expertly keeps up the same level of intelligence as well as keeping the fairly garden-variety punk images flowing (presumably for the sake of accessibility. Through songs like “Bread and Roses,” “Thieves, Liars and Cheats” and “Slogans On the Wall,” listeners will find a ton of social commentary pressed with big, bad, boot boy bravado to make both sides of the band’s crowd move, and the really cool thing about it is how evenly the balance is set. Wojick supplies lines like “Blame it on the left, blame it on the right/ It’s corporations that got the might” (from “Thieves, Liars and Cheats”) and “First generation to fall short of the rest/ Always gonna feel like second best/ First to find the American dream a sham/ Are we the first to leave our land?” (from “Slogans on the Wall”) for the thinkers and guitarists Jayson Shepard and Mike Caputo put down some cinderblock-heavy guitar lines for the thugs, and everyone comes away satisfied in the end. It’s pretty much perfect.
“So how does Pride & Tradition relate to the Fish & Chips EP,” you ask? Well, while they are not the same breed, it could certainly be said that they have an important bond between them. After having heard Fish & Chips, it’s possible to find more to Pride & Tradition than just brawn – elements of delicacy and style quickly become apparent, as evidenced in the dialogue above. Does that mean listeners might not have pieced all of what’s at work in one album without the other? Of course not – but having ‘the other’ certainly helps, and having this vinyl pressing would make a fine bragging rights addition to any punk’s collection.