Restless Habs - Cross Your Heart and Swear to Lie (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Restless Habs

Cross Your Heart and Swear to Lie (2011)


Back in the early 1990s, I read a review of a band called the Unknown which led me to send off for their debut cassette release, Change. From there I ended up doing a postal interview with vocalist Ken Blaze for MRR and followed the band's fortunes until their recent demise. Musically, the Unknown fitted into the pop-punk genre with Blaze's distinctive voice mixing well with the Descendents/ALL-fixated music.

Blaze has now resurfaced with Restless Habs (named after a Big Drill Car track) and has taken on the bass playing as well as singing duties on this four-track debut release (although they have had five tracks featured on a Boss Tuneage compilation prior to this release).

"Drive" opens up the proceedings and the initial impressions are positive. Blaze's voice also seems to have changed slightly, but not in a bad way: Whereas in the Unknown it seemed at times to be struggling with the higher-pitched songs (although this was part of the charm for me), it seems more comfortable with what Restless Habs are doing. This is probably the track which resembles the former band the most, but is still quite different to anything the Unknown released. It has a pop-punk edge to it without sounding like a bunch of pre-pubescent teens (or middle-aged men acting like pre-pubescent teens) whinging and whining about how life sucks.

"Lovers' Leap" has a different feel to it, despite retaining a mild pop-punk core, with a guitar sound that takes on a more post-punk approach (the first chord sounds very much like Big Black) and demonstrates that versatility is at the forefront of what the Habs are intent on doing.

"Truth Is for Suckers" takes this movement away from a standardised sound a step further and has a more angular output to it, which comes across as more post-punk than the previous track and is the standout track for me. During this song it hits me that there is a kind of Dischord feel to the track and whilst racking my brain for a suitable comparison I keep thinking of Shudder to Think (minus the vocals), but I'm not entirely convinced by my accuracy there!

The closer, "Lorraine" takes a step or so back to something more akin to "Drive", bookending the stronger two middle tracks nicely.

As it stands, this EP is a robust introduction to a new band that will hopefully go from strength to strength and win over the ears of those who enjoy something just a little bit off the normal pop-punk beaten path.