It’s not often in this day and age that a band is described as blue collar or champions of the working class. Partly because we would like to think that we are a more progressive society where everyone is given equal opportunities and partly because the middle class media would like us to believe that the working class these days or in fact the non-working class (also known as Benefits street). So it is unusual that the press to Colt 45’s first release since 2014’s The Tide Is Turning leads with the day to day to struggle of trying to make it in a band, raising young families and trying to get by in an area of the country recently again devastated by floods and also increasingly expensive to live in. Further to this Drummer Adam Lewis explains that the EP’s is as equally inspired by the up’s and downs of the music business; hence the title of Snakes & Ladders. On paper, not necessarily topics to get too excited about, but what we have with Snakes & Ladders is one explosive, earnest, exhilarating EP. The past couple of years may have kicked Colt 45 in the teeth but on this EP this is not a band that is going to lie down and take it. Instead it has inspired them to make their most vital and important work to date.
EP opener “I Can Forgive but I Won’t Forget” instantly lets you know Colt 45 are back. There is a rawness to this new EP, the vocals feel almost strained as if in the urgency to get the message out they almost forget themselves. The guitar riff is siren like, played with pace and it is relentless in its delivery. The musical breaks throughout all songs are a highlight on the EP and this is something I really like from Colt 45. It’s not all just about the vocals but they can convey their message very well just musically as well.
On Title Track and lead single “All Hell Broke Loose” you can perhaps see a little further into the blue collar tag as the EP and this track in particular remind me of The Gaslight Anthem. It’s a nod that in no way detracts from Colt 45. It takes the best elements of The Gaslight Anthem adds a lot of urgency and what you are left with is a cracking punk single. From the opening all singing chorus to the earnestness of the verses once they follow this is just a great exhilarating, punk pop song. Its sums up all that is great about this EP. The verses, feel like the band are wearing their hearts on the sleeve. You get the impression that this EP is very important to the Colt 45 lads and when the progressive bridge kicks in towards the chorus, it builds these emotions and feelings before bursting back into the chorus.
It’s really hard to choose a favourite track on this EP as they really all could have been standalone singles but “Lost for Words” is one that I may very well choose. Again there is a similarity to the narrative style of the Gaslight Anthem. Lyrically there is a message to this song but one thing for sure is that Colt 45 never seem “Lost for Words”. They talk of having the opportunities, and perhaps not have being a strong as they would have liked. It’s a classic song of struggle and reflecting on your actions.
“Square One” is very and Performance and Cocktails era Stereophonics, which is definitely a good thing. Colt 45 share a similar narrative style whilst both bands have the ability to be thoughtful and reflective whilst at the same time blasting you with great rock pop songs. “Square One” is full of energy with the vocals being delivered with machine gun pace. Great slice of rock and roll.
With “What you See is What You Get”, it is the only moment on the album that we are really allowed to stop and gulp for breath. The slower pace of the song enables the band to deliver the lyrics with a little less forcefulness. You feel for the narrator and the struggles with life he is making to look after his family. This pace doesn’t persist though and a big chorus is delivered to make another highlight of this EP.
So with Snakes and Ladders Colt 45 have been able to deliver what their debut album promised was to come. They may have taken a few knocks since then but they overcome these challenges to produce undoubtedly one of the best release’s I have heard so far this year. With the release of this EP, a lot more people should be hearing about Colt 45. They have that perfect mix, of songs that make you want to dance, go crazy, rock out when you see them live but with an earnestness that means you will want to play their records again and again whilst sat at home reflecting upon life.