Album Review – Year Zero – Brace for Impact – 2021

This one almost passed me by and is the debut album from midlands based punk band Year Zero and builds on their excellent EP released in 2019. Their early influences are evident such as SLF, Chelsea, Generation X, Buzzcocks to name but a few but they don’t live in the past and clearly have influences spanning the decades from Elvis, Kinks, glam, early punk, grunge and current punk contemporaries  

The album opens with the powerful drums of ‘Ruin My Town’ with its menacing guitar lines, great lead and chugging rhythm. This has a great chorus and clearly a story of the plight of their home towns that we can all relate to no doubt. ‘Human Condition’ follows with great bass licks and backing vocals and a guitar riff you could be humming for weeks. The middle section is pure Ramones and they are brave enough to throw in some impromptu WooHoos along the way.

‘Details’ opens with the singer crooning then were into an excellent mid-tempo tune with some great lyrics about setting your own agenda and a chorus reminiscent of the tuneful chants of The Clash and a great guitar solo.  

 ‘Tricky Micky’ is I assume about the singer himself and I always think it is a brave band member or band who put their lives out there for all to see. They cram a lot into this two minute assault which shows there ability to play. The explosive drums make the chorus and the track move and in parts this reminds me of Carter or the Toy Dolls. Despite the Hey Mickey in the Chorus this is no take on Toni Basil. Trust me.

‘Secret Suburbia’ for me is one of the best songs on the album, the tune is so catchy and it as a great solo and middle section. This is a wonderful slower tempo number about the realities of suburban life reminiscent of the Kinks. ‘The Close has gone all 50 Shades’ is a great line.

‘No Thrills’ follows on a similar theme about what they observe in life with the chorus of ‘No Thrills’ belted out by all members of the band who sound like they really enjoy what they do. Cat Stevens ‘Matthew and Son’ is not a song you would think is easy to cover with its strings and brass and they do a great job. With ska influences and off beat chorus this is a truly great version.

‘Trauma Doll’ begins with a complex riff and drums and this band are really story tellers who seem to live in their own strange world and draw you in. This song comes complete with hand claps following by frenetic drum, bass and guitar attacks which shows how together they are after 5 years plus as a band.

‘Hand Grenade Heart’ for me is the best track on the album ‘You pulled the pin on my hand grenade heart’ ‘you walked away and you blew it all apart’ are something any songwriter would be proud of. The keyboard brings another dimension and this tune is amazingly tight. ‘Midnight Picture Show’, with its eerie riff to match the subject matter is a real bopper about watching Hammer Horror films as a kid. It has keys taken straight from 1960s sci fi and the authentic scary laughter is a great end.   

The songs all have their own character and the changes in tempo and style and lyrics keeps the listener’s interest.

Having seen them live ‘Tonight’ is probably the only way to end the album with its tribal drums, chanting chorus, New York Dolls style guitar and lyrics about tonight being our/their time and a celebration of togetherness They take the song down and build it in equal measure with a fade to end. This is a great end to the album and maybe a chapter, and tribute should be paid to their departing drummer Tim who helped make this their time.

Go and see them soon as they are a hard-working gigging band who are excellent live and have a great new drummer – also called Tim.