Fresh started life as the brainchild of singer, guitarist and songwriter, Kathryn Woods. In its current incarnation Kathryn is joined by bassist, George Phillips and drummer, Daniel Goldberg.
Pop-punk is dead, long live pop-punk. Fresh set out to breathe new life into the genre with their mix of urgent, angsty punk tracks and lo-fi acoustic numbers, none of which even come close to being three minutes long.
Like an awful lot of bands we cover, Fresh hail from London. There’s not a great deal to say about London we haven’t said before; it’s the capital city of the United Kingdom, it has a population of nearly 8.8million people and it hosts more than 17,000 musical performances a year, equivalent to nearly fifty shows a night. Fresh are part of the acclaimed DIY-scene, which has spawned the likes of Wolf Girl, Colour Me Wednesday and Dream Nails.
Fresh formed in 2015, when Kathryn was just seventeen. They self-released a couple of home recorded EPs, Gewingchum and These Things Are Not That Fun. Their self-titled debut album was released earlier this month on Specialist Subject Records.
One of the problems of the early-noughties wave of pop-punk bands was that they got old and they got rich. It’s hard to keep up the pretense of relating to teenage angst when you’re a forty-year old, millionaire rockstar. What Fresh are offering is the real deal, their album is eleven songs of genuine teenage angst. Kathryn Woods runs through the life of a modern-day teenager, delivering her assessment with the intricate details that can only come from someone who’s genuinely living it. There’s tales of coping with depression, working out your place in the world as you grapple with identity and sexuality, exam stress, and being genuinely angry with the state of the world.
Musically, their debut album is an intriguing offering. At times it’s a straight up pop-punk album, the kind of riotous, no-nonsense adrenaline rush that Blink 182 or My Chemical Romance would be proud of, elsewhere on the record though, they come up with something altogether more sophisticated. Opening track, Short Hair, Don’t Care, has something of the muted acoustic-emo of Brand New, Fuck My Life showcases some lithe, complex finger picked acoustic guitars, while album highlight, Six Months, is a bright, sun-drenched slice of perfect indie-pop, resplendent with hazy guitars and crunching Be My Baby drums.
It’s perhaps lyrically that the album shines brightest; Get Bent is a brilliant rant against people who try to tell you what to do, as Kathryn yells, “don’t tell me what to like, don’t tell me I’ve gone too far, I’ll take pictures of the sky, I’ll fucking listen to MCR”, before going on to list a series of bands she already likes, so you don’t need to tell her about them like she hasn’t got a clue. I’ll Be Back is a nuanced exploration of the pressure of exams and the unwanted side effects of anti-depressants, “I’m hoping that these anti-depressants will make me feel a little less anti-depressed, I guess we’ll see”.
Probably the album’s finest moment, where the music and lyrics shine brightly together, is closing track, No Big Deal. The track bounces with a bright and easy energy, all delivered with a lightness of touch and a subtly often missing from the pop-punk genre. Lyrically, it’s a plea to just feel something, as Kathryn sings,“if I get hurt tonight it’s no big deal, I’ll retreat back into my warm shell”, before ultimately concluding, “I’d give a lot to feel as good as I used to.” It’s sad, and yes a little angsty, but also highly relatable, in touching on something universally human, it’s the kind of track that makes you think Fresh are a band with an intriguing future ahead of them.
With eleven tracks coming at ever so slightly over twenty minutes, you could argue they don’t offer the best value for money record ever created. That’s about our only complaint though; Fresh’s debut is all killer no filler, as Sum 41 would say.
Fresh is out now via Specialist Subject Records. Click HERE for more information on Fresh.