As we have finally come to terms with the fact that the many splinters of what we used to call ‘post-punk’ are now developing into a landscape of avant-garde sounds for many of which we don’t have an exact name yet, it is always good to remember that it is precisely in this rapidly developing, experimental scene that some of the most interesting new music is to be found. The Ringards are an excellent example of this: a band bringing together members from the most disparate nations and suggestions from the most disparate corners of the musical landscape, they possess a voice that is remarkably mature for an outfit so relatively recent and no doubt instantly recognisable for anyone who has attended their powerhouse live shows.
Their new single, The Death of Charlie Clown, is both welcome proof that the energy burst captured in their live performances can be conveyed just as successfully in a studio setting, and a perfect introduction to their voice for anyone who might not be acquainted with it yet. Addressing a form of insecurity that must be all too familiar for many of us, living as we are in a society where a level of performance appears to be inevitable in every form of social interaction – where playing a character is in a sense both compulsion and source of reassurance, something we are both pushed and eager to do as we navigate our way through life – the lyrics have a subtle irony to them that serves as a channel to both reflection and critique. Personal as the theme might feel, it is also inherently political, a well-woven commentary on self-perception of identity and the way we choose to present to the outside world.
Musically, there is a classic vibe to the track, but devoid of any nostalgic leaning; it is a song that borrows freely and cleverly from the greats of past rock and punk history, but that also knows its own voice and wants to have fun with it, exemplified in the bopping, syncopated rhythm that is a perfect fit for a live stage, in the ever-so-slightly-dirty guitars which take chords that once belonged to classic rock and turn them into something much more punk, and in distinctive vocals that have something vaguely echoing the cheeky charm of the Libertines at their musical best. Digging a little deeper, more recollections are to be found that may prove even more surprising; perhaps it is the tune, perhaps it is the juxtaposition of the themes in the lyrics with the snappy rhythm of the song, but one is reminded of the later Tom Waits in places (compare, for instance, 2011’s Bad as Me).
It is a charismatic release from a band that clearly has a lot to say and possesses all the confidence and daring necessary to say it in a personal, unique way. Trite as the concept of ‘one to watch’ may sound nowadays, when it comes to releases such as this there is no better recommendation to be made.
The song is out on all streaming platforms.
Check it out, here