The Pattern : Real Feelness

Blinding debut from California punkers

Talk about an embarrassment of riches. At this rate, there’s going to have to be a trade embargo on the number of brilliant rock albums being shipped from the States. Oakland, California, quintet The Pattern are the latest – and best – band to land on British shores.

Cramming 12 killer tracks into half an hour, much of ‘Real Feelness’ recalls an entire record collection of speed-blitzed garage-rock no-marks from 1965 (save delicate, romantic closer ‘Rangefinder’). What’s more, their raw, stylish sound, delivered at breakneck pace, is yet another example of why rock is in such rude health at the moment. But even if The Pattern hadn’t toured with The Strokes, The Hives and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, among others, you know they’d still be mining that same fuzzy, lurching groove.

Like those bands, The Pattern are chiefly about sex. What they’re never about is smut or laddism; Chris Appelgren writes lyrics of longing and anticipation. Even bizarre lines about athletes and zebras, on ‘You Or You’ and ‘She’s A Libra’ respectively, sound lusty. “Straddle my heart/Saddle my part”, squawks Chris during ‘Thunder Us’, a 30-something with sap rising like a teenage boy in a porn warehouse.

This is all the sweeter when you consider The Pattern‘s grounding in the generally sexless Stateside punk scene. Chris runs Lookout!, Green Day‘s original label, and used to be in The Peechees, while other members have served in even more obscure outfits Nuisance and St James Infirmary. And ‘Real Feelness’ harks back to a mid-’70s era when good-time punk didn’t equal Blink-182 or similarly well-scrubbed dorks.

No, this – like so many of 2002’s best albums – is a record that reckons life is there to be grabbed roughly and humped into the middle of next week. If The Pattern have spent most of their career to date playing basements with leaky pipes and no PA, it only keeps their kinetic.

Noel Gardner