Chelsea - Faster Cheaper & Better Looking (Cover Artwork)


Faster Cheaper & Better Looking (2007)


Whenever people discuss their favorite styles of punk, it's inevitable that someone will mention `77-style punk amongst the talk of hardcore, skatepunk, and emo. However, most of the `77 punk bands that are namedropped these days are those such as the Briggs, the Street Brats, the U.S. Bombs or the likes of current bands emulating the classic sound. Embarking on their journey as a punk band in 1976, Chelsea is one of the few bands still around who can hold a real claim to `77 punk.

Faster Cheaper & Better Looking marks the first time since 1979 that guitarist James Stevenson, vocalist Gene October, and drummer Chris Bashford had recorded a Chelsea studio album. Original bassist Dave Martin was not able to play due to suffering from multiple sclerosis, so Tony Barber of another legendary UK punk band filled in on bass duties.

"Living in the Urban UK" kicks off the album with a riff nearly identical to NOFX's "We Threw Gasoline on the Fire and Now We Have Stumps for Arms and No Eyebrows." At five minutes, it's the longest track on the album, but its steady rhythm and vocal delivery ironically reminiscent of Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" in the verse is a good introduction to the forthcoming elements of the rest of the album. The standout track "45 RPM" features gang vocals in the chorus and nostalgic lyrics many vinyl aficionados will be able to relate to: "A spiral scratch gave me my life back / A vinyl solution in my confusion / I hear a voice in the noise… / Two 7"s Clash / My life's soundtrack." The best song on the album, "If We Knew Then" maintains the nostalgic sentiment and as many hooks as you'll find on any pop radio station. "Sod the War" is a manifest reflection of the band's political opinions, and one of the more externally substantive songs on the album. The record closes with a cover of Iggy Pop's "Home," another insanely catchy track that showcases the rougher rock and roll capabilities of Chelsea with a little slower beat and lengthy guitar soloing.

The punk community is extremely fortunate to have bands like the Buzzcocks, the Stooges, and Chelsea releasing quality studio albums 30 years after they helped break the punk scene and ignite an explosion. Faster Cheaper & Better Looking is a present day work of art from a band who helped define the art that would captivate generations of punk rockers that is as relevant today as it was in 1977.