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The Pack A.D. - Do Not Engage

Within just two tracks of ‘Do Not Engage’, the pair from Vancouver have you completely arrested – and there’s no right to remain silent.

Canadian garage-rock duo The Pack A.D must have named their fifth studio effort in the same vein as a ‘Wet paint! Do not touch!’ sign, because within just two tracks of ‘Do Not Engage’, the pair from Vancouver have you completely arrested – and there’s no right to remain silent.

Becky Black and Maya Miller return with their trademark, venomous breed of no-nonsense, blues-tinged punk, but this time they’ve found more merit in melody. They know all to well the damage they can inflict with just a pocketful of power chords and the concentrated, raw intensity of Joan Jett – this time round it’s just a little more accessible is all.

The record hits the floor running with ‘Airborne’, a spaced-out number that elegantly showcases Black’s calm and composed vocal licks amidst an explosive chorus. Attacking, unapologetic guitar then stabs into the forefront with ‘Big Shot’ in a crude, macho flexing of their rock credentials, and this theme continues through both ‘Animal’ and ‘Creepin’ Jenny’ to truly cement this two-piece’s songwriting paradox; that is, to write tracks relentlessly rock’n’roll, yet pop-friendly enough to soundtrack a car commercial.

The signature song of the record sandwiches itself in next in the form of ‘Battering Ram’, a track that paints a particularly anarchist picture as Black sees red singing blues. Jekyll and Hyde vocals range from punk bully to sitting duck, and it’s in these small vulnerabilities that best offer out that missing human connection. Such is the case in ‘Loser’, where lyrics are limitlessly lost to a soft, dystopian soundscape.

But inevitably, in this bursting collection of high energy rock, the album loses its bite towards the end, finishing on ‘Needles’, a lullaby for realists on one hand, “Every breath I take is a second I can’t replace”, but sounding like Jack Johnson with acute depression on the other.

A tale of two halves, yes. But more importantly this is intelligent, radio rock to be proud of – and proof that The Pack A.D can still pack a punch as much as they can package a hit.

Tags: The Pack AD, Reviews, Album Reviews

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