New Pokerface hail from the Netherlands but have an overwhelmingly American feel on this five-track EP, much like the way that fellow Europeans Satanic Surfers and No Fun at All displayed.
The EP opens with the upbeat and catchy “Close Your Eyes”, which has a really thick and meaty production, reminiscent of many bands from within the EpiFat world and also that of their European contemporaries at Burning Heart (especially No Fun at All), where such a sound was de rigueur for many years. However, what this production quality does is to provide the band with a sound that, although aiding and abetting melodic punk rock, is to the detriment of attaining a sense of individuality or uniqueness to the output. That’s not to say that this release does not deserve its day, but it is likely to limit its longevity amongst a sea of other bands working—or who have worked—in this genre and may not allow New Pokerface to rise above those myriad of bands.
That aside, New Pokerface play mid-to-up-tempo punk rock rather well and write some good songs. The vocals are a mix of crisp and clear (Tim Klaassen) and raw and raspy (Erik Hermeler), which work well either in unison or apart, both coming across as impassioned. This is the strongest part of the EP for me and something the band utilises effectively. Not all the songs are of the same stock, and I imagine tracks like “Drowning” and “Saints and Sinners” would go down well with those who have a hankering for modern, emotional punk as they have a slower, more moody quality to them.
“Homecoming” brings the EP to a strong end and is probably the best track on the album. It brings to mind the aforementioned No Fun at All, and I’d really like to hear this live as I think it would have much more of a punch to it.
Given that I don’t listen to much of this brand of melodic punk these days, having overdosed on similar in the past, I find myself enjoying this release at the moment. It’s not setting my pulse racing and I am not sure that it’ll entice me to track down anything else by the band, but at this point in time Swingers is keeping me engaged, which has to be a positive.
On a final note, the packaging and artwork for this release is very good in that it’s not your typical kind of cover art and for this I commend New Pokerface on the choices made.