Jun 17, 2021
By Jimi Arundell
Brand new post punk three-piece Social Haul first impressed when they announced their arrival with lead single “Wet Eyes.” Led by singer/guitarist Leigh Padley, otherwise known as the bassist from TRAAMS, and including drummer Richard Trust plus bassist Daniel William Daws; the lacerating guitars, screamed slogans, and big fat basslines continued to demand attention on subsequent singles “The Ease” and “This Is All I Need.”
Now, Social Haul drop their eponymously titled first full-length. It strikes a perfect balance between being a concept album and a taut death disco record. Turning snapshots of overheard drunken conversations into 10 tracks of inebriated existential vignettes with an overarching narrative, the LP follows the story of an anonymous anti-hero at odds with the modern world, documenting the pissed-up protagonist’s drunken descent into morose doubt and confusion.
Under the Radar reached out to Padley, asking what prompted the unusual choice to write and sing under the guise of a semi-fictional character. And we were surprised to discover it was a decision based on initial nerves. “Removing myself from the picture entirely brought me much of that confidence needed to undertake the task of the ‘frontman,’” he said. “Even though I pondered over the method quite a bit I purposefully didn’t overthink the actual theme of the record.”
Despite being “a huge fan of high concept music,” Social Haul’s record never becomes an over bloated epic novel put to music, nor is it Padley’s attempt at his prog rock masterpiece. Instead, the songs combine rapid fire riffs, punchy alliteration, and amphetamine accelerated funk beats as assisted by Girl Band bassist Daniel Fox, who took on producer duties. Teaming up with the extreme Irish art rocker gave the band the perfect partner to bounce ideas off and create a raucous record, as Padley explains: “His strengths perfectly complement the project and my downfalls as a musician, so it ended up being a particularly smooth and very enjoyable recording process.”
In addition to the rampaging three singles, make sure you check out the barely one-minute album opener “Complain,” which is packed full of the passion heard right across the record, “The Bayou,” which swaps wiry lead guitar for chugging grunge chords, and “Utmost Care,” which recalls a sped up Iggy Pop/David Bowie’s “China Girl” and is easily the most radio friendly track on the album—and it is a surprise it wasn’t picked to be a single.
In a climate currently packed full of underperforming guitar bands with terrible deconstructed rhythms, awful David Byrne impersonations, and IDLES wannabes, it has almost been enough to put everyone off post-punk for life. Thankfully, Social Haul do not just offer something different; they do a damn fine job of doing it. It was a brave move opting to invent an unhinged character to inhabit, and a lesser band would have likely pursued cheap melodrama and quickly disappeared up their own arse. And if Leigh Padley has any remaining doubts over his songwriting skills, they will likely evaporate like his persona’s hangover when he hears all the fans of his new band screaming his songs back at him when they tour in September. (www.socialhaul.bandcamp.com)
Author rating: 7/10
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