Wasted Life - It Means Nuthin When You're Dead (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Wasted Life

It Means Nuthin When You're Dead (2011)

STP Records

Over the past 35 years or so, punk rock has evolved in a way that would have not been foreseeable at the time. There have been many genres, subgenres and returns to genres in that time to keep the overarching world of punk rock ticking along nicely enough to entice new recruits to the cause to keep things moving along as the years go by. Sometimes you hear a song which takes you back to a certain period of time in your life, to one of those early days and the memories it evokes can be as clear as if they had happened in the past few days. On other occasions you will hear a new song or band which manages to do exactly the same thing although without any particular references in your past to link them too directly. For me that certainly applies to Wasted Life.

As a youngster I was very much into what is now referred to as the "UK82" scene and lapped up a lot of the music that came out of the early '80s, before acquiring an interest in music from around the globe. Wasted Life immediately takes me back to those years as the band sound as if it has almost been transported from that era and gone through a minor update to reach the present day.

There are obvious improvements from many of the bands that were encompassed by the whole UK82 banner, a sound that today often comes across as plodding and ponderous, and where things have moved on is through better musicianship (the bass playing on this record is one of the highlights of the release) and enhanced production values. However, there is no way of disguising the fact that the vocals of JJ immediately make me think of a lot of bands I heard back in those days, some of which would have featured on the various Oi! compilations but also with a quality that reminds me a bit of Carl Fisher from Blitz. His voice is a guttural bark, snapping away as the lyrics (which highlight that many of today's problems and issues are no different to those encountered during the UK82 era: workers being treated like dirt, decaying cities--in this case Stoke-on-Trent) and at first this really turned me off. However, gradually I became more accustomed to this element and it had quite a nostalgic effect on me, becoming something I enjoyed.

As the album plays through, there's no denying that it's a fairly generic offering which is blatantly not going to set the world alight. There is nothing new here nor does it inspire one to take up arms in the name of any cause. However, all that being said, there is something here that I find strangely, albeit temporarily I would say, appealing: perhaps it is that it makes me think back to the days when I was in school, as yet generally unaffected, personally, by the politics of the day although well aware of them, and when life was more carefree. The conclusion I arrived at is that this is purely a nostalgia trip and although I had some great times as a teenager, this album isn't going to provide me much entertainment in future months when I want something challenging, thought provoking or current, but for now it puts a smile on my face as I reminisce of the days gone by, and that's not a bad thing to have as it's brought me to where I am today.

I frequently mention bands that would fit in musically with the annual Fest event but here I'd be mightily surprised if this band isn't a regular name on the line up at the annual Rebellion event here in the U.K.--there is a massive retro feel to the band both in appearance and music.