A Few Things We Might Agree On (A Few Things We Might Not) is the debut full length from Gloucester hardcore punk lot Still Bust. Following their debut EP Pile O’ Knives, a full length record seems like it’s been a long time coming. Upon first listen, it’s not actually that hard to believe that Still Bust have been sitting on this one for about a decade. Debut full lengths, usually released far earlier within a band’s life cycle, are normally like the beginning of a long-term romantic relationship; it’s all still new and exciting and you still go and make out with each other in public places, but there’s nothing solid behind it. As time goes on, that begins to wane and you get the ‘sophomore slump’, that second record that sounds like you’re really trying but really, you’re together because it’s comfortable. No, the ridiculously long titled A Few Things We Might Agree On (A Few Things We Might Not) really sounds more like that third record, when you accept that you’re stuck with each other, but you know how to push each other’s buttons, and actually, it’s pretty great.
It starts out like every great hardcore record should – with a bang. ‘If You Don’t Like Video Games (You Probably Like Other Things)’ is bombastic but despite its frenzied nature, still has plenty of melody punctuating throughout before leading into a catastrophically discordant breakdown. There’s more gold to come, and Still Bust’s rough and ready approach is tempered with an intelligent, philosophical and sometimes downright mental approach to their lyrics, like in ‘Physicist At A Funeral (Godless Thoughts On Death)’. There’s enough gang vocals to satisfy the tuffest hardcore fan and plenty of frenetic riffs and wacky time signatures for the more discerning listener – tracks like ‘This Box Is For Standing On (But Look At How Big It Is!) have it all. There’s gloriously irreverent flashbacks to a simpler era in ‘Ball (Sac Magique)’, a 45 second blast of hardcore madness. It ends like every great hardcore record should as well. ‘Be Optimistic (Said The Mayfly)’ is a dramatic statement of intent, fading out into crackling static and a killer breakdown. If you weren’t into the record nine tracks deep, by the tenth, you’d be clamouring for more.
There’s times when it feels like Still Bust are apologising for something though. Self-deprecating song titles comparing themselves to Rise Against aside, there’s moments in the album that undermine their otherwise brilliant approach. Tracks like ‘First World (Band) Problems’ go on for far too long and prevent the band from achieving a clarity and fury that they’re more than capable of. However, even moments that fall flat, like the extended vocal-only tirade in ‘Physicist At A Funeral’ that doesn’t know quite when to finish, are brave attempts at transcending the stereotypical punk formula. Lest we forget, fortune favours the bold. For every tiny failure, there’s at least two massive triumphs. Quite simply, A Few Things We Might Agree On (A Few Things We Might Not) was worth the wait.
4 out of 5 high fives!