EP REVIEW: SHEAFS' debut EP, 'vox pop,' proves they're not cut from a complacent cloth
Like an epidemic sweeping their nation, Sheffield-based rock band SHEAFS are providing their disenfranchised generation with a voice, and all they ask in return is that we give punk the future it so ardently deserves.
The Clash, The Damned, The Ramones - all bands that paved the way for punk - had one thing in common: restlessness. Many of the most famous punk bands grew up broke in the suburbs surrounding London, and really the only things that satisfied them enough were angering their parents and making music. Rather than shouting into the seemingly endless void of teenage angst, they used the platform that making music gave them to give a voice to their anger, and to the voiceless. The Clash's Joe Strummer said that punk's manifesto is to stand up against ignorance, and to educate anyone who listened to them. In a time when so many artists were afraid to make waves, punk said fuck that, I'm saying something, and I'm saying it loud.
Literally, "vox pop" means pop music with a voice, and SHEAFS are delivering just that, and more. Every song on Vox Pop is catchy, but what sets punk - and SHEAFS - apart is that they all have something to say - it's not music for the sake of making sound. They want to make noise.
In the first song on the EP alone, the band calls for equality, peaceful coexistence, and socioeconomical reform; their generation - my generation - are inheriting the world our parents let fall apart, and we're pissed about it. We're trying to put it back together, piece by piece, but turns out that's a lot harder than it seemed to be - "the world doesn't turn that way, it doesn't work that way," vocalist Lawrence Feenstra sings, and he's right, unfortunately. And in "WIFA," he lets us know that "the world is falling apart, and that's okay," but also that we have "to grow and get better." This is a band that wants to ensure we have a future, and that it's a safe and happy and healthy one. They want to make sure the people responsible (the rich, the famous, the apathetic) for its ruination are held accountable.
"Total Vanity!" calls to question the performative nature of society: do we do the things we do to prove to everyone around us that we can do them? Or do we do what we do because it's what we want to do? And why do we care so much how we look and what other people think of us?
The penultimate track, "Shopping," has a very simple message: why the fuck do we buy so much stuff we don't need? You have to live under a rock not to know how much fast fashion and wasteful collection of material items is affecting our environment and economy. This song is a criticism of the fact that society spends so much time and effort molding us into people who think that we need to spend money to feel better. It's nonsense, and I'm glad someone finally said it.
I already knew going into this review how much I loved "Care Less." I've streamed it nonstop for the last two months. It's so poignant and straight to the point; it genuinely is a song about social paranoia, and each drumbeat feels a bit like a slap in the face, almost like an attempt to snap out of that mindset. I thought that there couldn't possibly be a song of theirs I loved and related to more than this one, but now that I've heard the entire EP (about a thousand times, I might add) I've decided I love them all too much to choose between them. I know that's probably not very professional of me, but a little birdy told me I've got to care less, so...
This EP really is a fantastic debut from a band that will no doubt become a voice for their nation. We're living in a time of great political distress, and we have desperate need for a voice to rise out from the masses, to stand out from the crowd, and to help us understand and breathe fire to our own anger. SHEAFS could absolutely be that band. Unrest is timeless, and ignorance is timeless, but so is what they have to say. They're not afraid to criticize the people deserving of it and the aspects of humanity they find damning.
SHEAFS can be found on their website, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and Vox Pop - along with all of their previously-released singles - can be streamed on your preferred platform. They're having a party at Gulliver's in Manchester tonight if you're out and feel up to celebrating Vox Pop's release with the band, but if you can't make it, make sure you see them all across the UK this spring (and fingers crossed they'll be making their way across the pond soon!):
Saturday March 7th – Nottingham, Bodega / SOLD OUT
Thursday March 12th – Sheffield, Cafe Totem / SOLD OUT
Friday March 13th – Sheffield, Cafe Totem / SOLD OUT
Friday March 27th – Liverpool, O2 Academy*
Saturday March 28th – Birmingham, O2 Academy 2*
Saturday April 4th – Nottingham, Rock City*
Monday April 6th – Cambridge, Junction*
Tuesday April 7th – Sheffield, Foundry*
Saturday August 1st - Sheffield, Tramlines Festival
*supporting The Slow Readers Club