The Pukes - Will I Learn? (Cover Artwork)

The Pukes

Will I Learn? (2013)

Damaged Goods

If I were your psychologist and we were going through a "word association" exercise there are a few images you would possibly associate with the word "ukulele." Your mind would perhaps envision a middle aged man wearing a Hawaiian shirt playing a shitty song like "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" at a tropical themed party. Or perhaps you would think of a dreadlocked teenager from "Any Midwest Suburb,USA" playing a strung out version of a Bob Marley song on YouTube. Believe me, there are plenty of them out there. The point is there are countless cliche images associated with the Ukulele but the truth is the ukulele and punk rock have many things in common. For starters, ukes are cheap and you don't have to be a fucking great musician to play one. Also you can play a uke as fast as you want and it sounds half way decent. I actually saw a pretty awesome street performer doing Ramones covers on the uke outside my favorite bar. If that's not DIY I don't know what is. So if I said the word "Ukulele" and the first thought to come to your mind was 20 ladies from London doing Cocksparrer covers I would say you have just named "The Pukes."

Will I Learn– is the 2013 EP from the London–based band The Pukes. The EP consists of 3 original songs and a cover. The EP starts with the title track "Will I Learn–" which I found a great way to kick off the EP. The song is about drunken blackout nights, I found the vocals just as fun and random as the night they were describing. Of the 3 original tracks on this EP I would say that this is the best track and the only original track worth your undivided attention.

The next track is perhaps what makes The Pukes well known as they are, which is their covers of Oi songs. The cover of "Because You're Young" is very well done and puts a new perspective on a punk rock classic. I found this song really fun to listen to and actually listened to the cover about 5 times in a row. If you are a fan of Cocksparrer you will either love this track to pieces or curse it to hell. Either way, you have to admit you never heard punk songs quite like this.

As good as the first two tracks were the last two tracks "GLC" and "Jet Boy,Jet Girl" leave much more to be desired. The content is dull and the tracks seem a bit too similar. I just could not get into them which surprised me as I enjoyed When Will I Learn– so much. Perhaps The Pukes could not change the novelty factor of the uke after all. If you are looking for a good uke centric album that highlights a single uke with supporting instruments rather than 20 ukes with a snare drum, I would suggest the self–titled record by Uke–Hunt. Uke–Hunt remains uke centric and I found a better record from both an instrumental and lyrical perspective. Uke–hunt also showcases the range of sounds of the uke can produce. When comparing the two records, the covers and production are at much higher level for Uke–Hunt when compared to The Pukes.

In retrospect, this is an "ok" album at best. There is really no need to listen to this EP all the way through. I find myself putting the first two songs in random playlist or mixes. The EP does not stand on its own as a great but there are a few gems in there that make it worth a listen. I really wish The Pukes would put out a full album of covers as I love their covers but not their original music. If you like any part of the EP check out their YouTube channel for a pretty cool Banned From the Pubs cover. If you don't like them disregard this review and the 9 minutes of this EP.