Possibly, for sentimental reasons, I love an EP.
I started work in 1994. I used to spend every lunchtime in record shops. You could in those days. They were like Spotify but better. The bloke in the shop used to say “here, And, I think I’ve got something you’d like, give us the money tomorrow If you fancy it.”. These days an algorithm does the same on a curated playlist.
I’d imagine Wayward Sons singer Toby Jepson remembers those days just as fondly. I hope he does anyway, and I hope he doesn’t think me a hypocrite for reviewing “Score Settled” while listening to it on Spotify.
“…Settled” is a seven tracker, the type of thing that used to be bonus tracks on a cd single way back then. And just like my favourites of the mid 90s (The Wildhearts, The Almighty, Silver Sun, Mansun and many more) used to with their b-sides, Wayward Sons have reserved some wonderful stuff here.
The first three are perhaps the most interesting. Three songs that didn’t make the “Even Up The Score” record back in 2021. They are more proof of the songwriting and skill that these four possess.
“Beaten To The Punch” is perhaps the best one, and underlines the social commentary here. Jepson has always had a world view that seemed to chime with mine and he appears extra angry on these seven songs.
It’s the way he spits the lines throughout. “These days,” he opines on the opener, “reputation is built on chat from Mock The Week”. Celebrity culture dealt with, he aims a broadside on the rest of the world on “Can’t Take It Anymore”. The keyboard and harmonies give this a real 70s glam feel, and there’s a moment when Jepson lets out one of his trademark “yeah yeah” screams and the clock is turned back. He’s got no right to hit those notes really…..
“Real Go Getta” is a perfect Wayward Sons tune – and underlines again that Sam Wood on guitar is the heir to Scott Gorham (he’d played with Ricky Warwick the other week and when he did a Lizzy song it was striking).
What is striking about the others (available but only as rarities) is just how much punk rock there is around. “Standby Heart” has a definite flavour of that, and “Radio Denial” travels back in time to the sort of thing that Jepson was doing on the early Little Angels EP’s circa “Too Posh To Mosh”.
“Totally Screwed” completes the acerbic trio in stunning fashion. Seemingly subscribing to the perspective that I have always believed that religion, monarchy and capitalism all perform the same function of ensuring people like me know our place, this just does it with way more skill than I could.
The last one “Backslide” was done live in the studio, and chugs a little more. Circumstances meant I haven’t seen Wayward Sons since before the pandemic, but goodness me, they deliver this with a passion.
“Score Settled” actually is inaccurate, because you imagine that Toby Jepson will never truly be ready to stop and declare it over. His heart has always lay in singing his songs, after all.
What this EP does prove, and increasingly beyond any reasonable doubt in my book, is that Wayward Sons are the best hard rock group on these shores by a distance.