STA is now Ten Years Old

'Bucko' Is Rock Sound's 'Album Of The Month' - March 2006

'Did they really just fit all of that into half an hour? What’s that ringing in my ear? Where am I? Fuck me, that was brilliant.'

‘Pop’ is a completely subjective term- what is pop to one person may to another sound like abrasive rock. And so we find Fickle Public, the Scottish quartet responsible for some of the shortest, sharpest ‘pop’ songs you could find, but who also seem devilishly intent on bursting eardrums. ‘Bucko’ is a blistering mix of petulant tantrum-rock, throbbing rhythms, dark intent and off-kilter time signatures.

Kicking off with recent single ‘Just Like I Got Used To Saying Courteney Cox Arquette’, feedback reverberates as the album enters the first of many pounding riffs, screeching and jarring before front man Al Ferguson stamps his inimitable vocals on top. It’s full-throttle stuff, and set into effect what proves to be an astonishing 10-song experience. Effortlessly switching the mood, the delicate ‘Five Four To The Floor’ follows. Equal parts urgent and luscious, with shimmering guitar picking giving way to frantic strums and twangy riffs, this is exactly what pop should sound like.

The blood-boilingly brilliant ‘Wilberforce’ goes straight for the jugular by starting with the chorus – the addictive sliding riff and vocal lines immediately embedding themselves in you cranium to overwhelming effect. Song structures like this are what make Fickle Public such an exciting prospect – where at first the verse parts are seemingly a link to replay the manic catchiness just one more time, halfway through the two parts merge into one screamed mass, descending into a bridge that simmers below the surface before once more exploding in spittle-drenched ire – all within the space of two and a half minutes.

They’ve made their point, and in fourth track ‘Jee’ set about exhibiting a more tempered, patient approach. Layered guitar parts, subtle levels of reverb and patient drums build for two minutes before Ferguson finally joins in with temporarily lulled vocals that in turn lead to a wondrously relieving outburst, flowing naturally into the clever simplicity of the riff that underpins ‘Prefix With So’.

As was the band’s intention, by now the album is driving ahead with the organic and brutal efficiency of a storming live set: song naturally leading into song, blow after blow, bang, bang, bang, bang, and before you know it, you’re on the floor. There’s an inventiveness behind these compositions that fully attests to their eclectic tastes. And, while these boys can in some ways be likened to their compatriots Biffy Clyro (not least because, thankfully, you can hear the Scottish accent in the vocals) they’re a helluva lot fiercer, as can be heard in first single ‘Kittens Got Claws’, the all-out assault of ‘Rock Yer Voddy’, and the bleak brooding savagery of ‘Slavers’.

Closing track ‘Another Exit Ruined By Stairfalling’ provides the perfect calm after the storm, bringing the sensory onslaught to a halt and allowing time for that same heady reflection you might experience during a quiet encore at a euphoric gig. Did they really just fit all of that into half an hour? What’s that ringing in my ear? Where am I? Fuck me, that was brilliant.

- Tim Newbound, Rock Sound