Outdoors Man, the second 2023 single from (mostly) punk band Furrowed Brow is out next week, and the group are continuing as they always have – bringing classic punk into 2023. Elements of post and proto punk are smashed out of my speakers in a crescendo of noise and semi-ironic rage.
They are releasing the album from their own Dostoevskian ‘Notes From Underground’ label. They are happy with this arrangement, arguing they can now work with no outside involvement – the dream for any experimental band. The record, like their sound in general, feels like a tribute to the punk genre. Despite this, they manage to cram in a healthy cocktail of other genres and sounds while they do it. They described it as a paean to England’s rocks and valleys.
The single is good. The war drum tattoo and slow, angry guitar intro promises the song to be good live. It’s loud but not screamy loud, think more the Stranglers than the Sex Pistols. The over the top operatic singing gives it a jovial feeling, reminiscent of bands like the Specials or Pulp. The final line of Outdoors Man, ‘I’m an outdoors woman’ is a nice reminder that this band is in fact contemporary, and aware of the tropes of inadvertently sexist language.
This second single is slower and more balladic than their previous track, Jill. Outdoors Man will have an accompanying music video in the foreseeable future, following in the footsteps of its predecessor.
Furrowed Brow have clear influences rooted in old school punk. The Clash, The Pistols, The Jam, The Stranglers. You can also hear other influences, from just about every genre and time, battling for dominance throughout their songs. Many of their tracks are self-aware or outright funny, like ‘TikTok Twat’, or ‘Punctual Punk’.
The track is good and if you like classic punk, there is nothing wrong with this record. The criticism would be that classic punk isn’t really very punk anymore. As the Television Personalities prophesied with their Part Time Punks track in ‘95, punk stopped being punk when it became mainstream.
That being said, they do a good job of taking us back to the days of JJ Burnell and Sid Vicious, while peppering their songs with more contemporary sounds and an ‘it’s 2019’ attitude. While they may not be at the spear tip for new evolutionary music, they are doing what they are doing well. And keeping at arms lengths from some of the newer, AI and autotuned-assisted sounds coming out may be no bad thing either (have you heard any PinkPantheress?? I’ll stick to Furrowed Brow any day.)