2020’s ‘Speed Kills’ might have been Chubby and The Gang’s debut effort, but it felt more like a culmination for frontman Charlie ‘Chubby’ Manning. After a 15 year spell surfing from one band to another in London’s seething hardcore punk scene, the album finally offered him the opportunity to issue a statement all of his own. The result was a record that bottled the raging, breakneck DIY spirit of the genre and spat it out in an earth-scorching flurry of political and social fury.
Now, barely a year later, comes the aftermath. With the pent-up frustration having been blown off, what is captured on ‘The Mutt’s Nuts’ is something of a blossoming for this Gang. The front half of the album maintains the same essence, just with updated seasoning: the blues chords of ‘Coming Up Tough’ and the quasi-glam stomp of the title track add nuance without sacrificing urgency, while on ‘Pressure’, the garage sleaze glistens a little more romantically with every bead of sweat that drips onto it, before a searing, screeching guitar solo sweeps it all away. Producer and Fucked Up drummer Jonah Falco understands that the best thing he can do is not to stand in the way.
- READ MORE: Chubby and The Gang: west London hardcore punks’ thrilling debut captures lightning in a bottle
The real surprises arrive later in the running order. ‘Life on the Bayou’ features twinkling, piano chords somewhere at the back of the mix, while the Gang chug along at pub rock speed before breaking for a harmonica solo. It is the clearest sign yet of the pop instincts that this band possess and will struggle to keep a secret for much longer.
‘Take Me Home to London’ slows proceedings to a gentle strum while a wistful vocal from Manning works as a delicate arrangement. Similarly, ‘Life’s Lemons’ comes off a little like Babyshambles covering a long-lost ’50s doo-wop track, as Manning, now the injured bear, takes a moment to lick his wounds.
Trade unionist politics remain fundamental to the band’s core, as keenly expressed on ‘White Rags’: “Set alight by the boys in blue/White knights marching in their rags/Putting children in body bags,” sings Manning, preferring the direct attack to sideways references. There is no posturing to working class credentials here; this is what the real thing sounds like. It is a potent reminder of how ‘The Mutt’s Nuts’ expands the boundaries of what Chubby and the Gang are looking to achieve, but they’re not about to forget where they came from.
- Record label: Partisan Records
- Release date: August 27