It’s fair to say that No Choice has been round the block a few times, having been around since the early 1980’s and now managing to release a third (and probably their best) LP in 2013. For those across the Atlantic, this Welsh band might have come to your attention when they toured the US with Against Me! back in 2004 and were subsequently featured on the We’re Never Going Home tour DVD that came out shortly thereafter.
“Coalition Blues” sets out the No Choice stall from the off, with the current UK government coming under attack from Gagz Williams’ vitriol, which has him spitting out lyrics in a style that leaves you in no uncertainty as to his feelings. With that point being made so early on in Thru It, and here in the review, it is that aspect which above all else is featured on this recording, and the one that does the most for me. Williams is obviously serious about the impact of the current government and a variety of wrongs that are to be found in the world we live in, and he does a good job of putting this across in his lyrics and their delivery.
Musically, some say that No Choice are ‘post-punk’ but I think that the band has a much wider appeal that confining it to that often unhelpful description. The evidence of that need to escape musical confinement is heard in a number of songs but none more so than “These Nights,” which is almost indie-lite musically, and the title track which is a much smoother vocal performance indeed.
“Airwaves” has a guitar sound very reminiscent of Peter and the Test Tube Babies' The Mating Sounds of South American Frogs, and it also features the catchiest and most sing-along style parts of all the tracks on the album, just ahead of “Coalition Blues.”
“Rhetoric and Promises” takes on a reggae/ska approach whilst “You Don’t Need To…” has a bass line that reminds me of bands such as the Big Boys, with some choppy guitar added and one of a few times when Williams sounds a bit like Justin Sullivan of New Model Army. The song itself also has elements that have me comparing it to Sullivan’s long standing outfit. For an even better New Model Army sounding song, look no further than “People First” where these elements are all much more prevalent throughout, without it sounding like a rip off.
It’s good to see that old timers in the punk scene can still be angry and relevant, the former being a quality that is quite often missing from younger bands, which is baffling considering the many ideal targets out there. The other strength is that this is not your one-dimensional offering some older bands are content to offer up, and although some might find the variation not to their taste, it helps from getting stale at any stage yet still manages to convey something worthy of note rather than throwaway words. A heavy dose of passion also adds to the whole package, which features some of the best lyrics (both to sing along to and read) I’ve heard from a "serious" band in a while.