You can learn a lot about STONE from the artists they’ve already toured with. Before the Liverpool four-piece had so much as an EP to their name, they’d opened for the likes of Sam Fender and Yungblud – two fellow northerners who have achieved stardom with their candid lyrics and infectious energy.
All of that is present on STONE’s debut EP ‘Punkadonk’, in which the band explore their own identity while treading a path towards the big time. “I wanna be noticed, I don’t care if it hurts,” spits frontman Fin Power on ‘Waste’, three minutes of unapologetic punk bile that sees the singer relishing in his own hateful persona. A subdued bridge, however, reveals that behind the bravado, Powers is drowning: “Speaking to the bartender, I need some help / I think I’m going under, I’m losing my mind.” It’s only a fleeting moment of respite, though, as the song then closes out louder than ever.
Emotionally, ‘Punkadonk’ is a fickle beast. Take ‘Money (Hope Ain’t Gone)’, a bouncing track that was co-written by Power and lead guitarist Elliot Gill which explores coming of age in today’s “heavyweight times”. Bubbling along with equal parts optimism and discontent, Power sings “wake up every day, isolated away / Days can be quite dark, I just survive,” before countering this grim outlook with the declaration “hope ain’t gone” during a fast-paced, soaring chorus.
STONE play with these contrasts throughout the EP. ‘Moto’ humorously frames a scummy night out through the lens of an old Motorola phone, while ‘Radio Ready’ takes a sincere swing at the “plastic” side of the music industry. The sound of ‘Punkadonk’ is equally malleable, and gives the impression that STONE are still exploring their own sound: ‘Waste’ is wrapped around a distorted, ugly guitar riff, but they then enter electronic territory with ‘Disruptor’.
Though ‘Punkadonk’ is just five tracks long, it never stays in one place long enough for the listener to get a complete handle on it. Rather than follow safely in the footsteps of the northern stars they’ve been on the road with, STONE have used their first EP as an opportunity to build upon their own punchy identity – and, thanks to the electricity coursing through ‘Punkadonk’, that decision has paid off.
Release date: November 18, 2022
Record label: Polydor Records