It feels like it’s been a really long time since we had a brilliant band from Wales. The days of Funeral for a Friend, The Blackout and Kids in Glass Houses have been over for a while now, leaving a void in the Welsh pop punk scene. Luckily, the country is inundated with great, young talent, one of whom has been making waves, touring the South of the country relentlessly and even making it to the West Midlands and beyond: Junior.
Junior represent simple, effective, circa 90s/early 00s pop punk. They aren’t trying to redefine a genre or change the world, it’s just three guys with instruments making music they love and making it well. Particularly when looking at their later releases, the band have an extremely consistent back catalogue, with barely any real dips in quality. Their most recent release, a split EP with now-split Sheffield pop-punkers Fierce Morgan features just two songs from the band, both of which are excellent. Lead single ‘Falling to Pieces’ features a host of famous faces, including pro-wrestler Matt Hardy and a feature from ex-Blackout Sean Smith.
The three piece compromises of guitarist/vocalist Matt Attard, bassist/vocalist/pro-wrestler Mark Andrews and drummer Si Martin. The vocalists have great chemistry, with Attard’s conventional pop-punk-y tone matching Andrews’ husky voice. Instrumentally, everyone is pretty good – the music isn’t redefining any genres but it does everything with confidence and competence, which is quite impressive given that all three members are quite involved with the music vocally too.
Don’t take my word for it though; EP ‘Juniorland’ is the perfect encapsulation of what the band is all about. ‘That Pretty Dress’ is one of the better pop punk songs I’ve heard in a long time, with a chorus so simple yet infectious it almost hurts. Other EP highlights include ‘Anywhere but Here’, probably the most power ballad-y song the band have released and probably one of the best songs the band have ever released, whilst opener ‘A House that’s Not Quite Home’ is a 5-minute epic in which both vocalists really get to show off their pipes.
I think the best thing about Junior – and the reason they stand to succeed – is their creativity. The band put a huge amount of effort into their music videos and content – it’s just so much more interesting than a lot of their peers are doing. Whether it’s their holiday-themed releases – check out Halloween-themed ‘I’m Your Boyfriend Now, Nancy!’ and Christmas tune ‘Say You’re Coming Home’ – or the artwork they use in their promotional materials, the band always find a way to stand out.
Surely, it’s only a matter of time before the band are playing bigger stages – they’re already snagged themselves a spot at this year’s Download Festival – and their house-sized choruses and infectious energy imply the band would feel at home on an arena stage…