Any album that kicks off with a riff uncannily like the Hollyoaks theme tune (honestly, compare the two) is already off to a flying start, and Sheer Mag’s debut proper - ‘Need To Feel Your Love’ - doesn’t disappoint. Chucking together shamelessly glammy Thin Lizzy vibes with a giant dollop of vitriol aimed at oppressive systems, these Philly punks have a knack for colliding angry bite with a gleeful, smirking sense of defiance. And though Sheer Mag cherry-pick their influences from all over the shop, really, they sound like nothing else out there.
‘Suffer Me’ - a defiant anthem for LGBT resistance - revisits the Stonewall riots, which took place on 28th June, 1969. The violent uprising, which followed a police raid at a New York gay bar, is commonly viewed as a huge turning point in the gay liberation movement. Yet the inequality still rages, and that appears to be the purpose of Sheer Mag’s twanging tirade. “Suffer me, You got to let me be,” yowls Tina Halladay, fists clenched, and marching onward. ‘(Say Goodbye to) Sophie Scholl’ meanwhile pays tribute to an anti-Nazi student who was executed for her activism in Germany. And looking ahead to the bleak reality of 2017, ‘Need to Feel Your Love’ rallies equally hard against police brutality, the dishonesty of politicians, and a world made for “rich men in their white skin”.
At heart, though, Sheer Mag’s debut record is one that holds high the importance of love; and that’s not just limited to desire-packed, butterfly-inducing lust (though that’s certainly covered on the likes of ‘Pure Desire’ and the album’s title-track). Far more simply, this record is mainly concerned with the power of being compassionate towards others, and extending love to everyone; friends and strangers alike. “When we walk together it feels alright,” goes ‘Meet Me in the Street’. As we’ve sadly seen from recent tragic events, sticking together and loving each other feels absolutely vital, and in that sense, ‘Need to Feel Your Love’ is an album that not only shreds, but feels prescient, too.