Critically acclaimed Teesside agitators Benefits return with their much-anticipated debut album ‘Nails’. In their four years of existence, much has changed for Benefits. Over lockdown they morphed from spirited guitar-led punks into overwhelmingly brutal harsh noise-wielders, whose furious, eviscerating music garnered them the kind of word of mouth following most artists can only dream of. Frontman Kingsley Hall’s spoken (and screamed) vocals acting as a righteous rebuke to the divisive, xenophobic, poisonous rhetoric coming from elsewhere, spread by those who stand to profit from the fallout, that had all but overwhelmed our public discourse.
Every time one of the band’s bracing polemics arrived it would spread rapidly across social media like an antidote to that disease and gather more to Benefits’ cause. High profile fans like Steve Albini, Sleaford Mods and Modeselektor were among those on board from the off. Effusive coverage from the likes of NME, The Quietus, Loud & Quiet and The Guardian and more soon followed.
Now, however, they are stepping things up a level, signing to esteemed indie imprint Invada who will release their debut album ‘NAILS’ on April 21. “We could have released a record at any point over the last couple of years but held back because I wanted to wait until the right people came along,” Hall says. The label’s co-founder Geoff Barrow of Portishead was one of the many who’d been drawn to the music as it made waves online, and when he came to see the group perform live in his native Bristol was immediately hooked. His faith in the band has been repaid and then some, producing a record that not only confirms the group’s brilliance, but also redefines what you thought was possible. It captures all of that validating rage that established them one of the most exciting acts in the country – skull crushing fan favourites ‘Flag’, ‘Empire’ and ‘Meat Teeth’ are all present and correct – but also pushes their sound into bold new territory, both sonically and emotionally.
Take lead single ‘Warhorse’ for instance. A playful riposte to those whose limited musical horizons have seen them question the band’s ‘punk’ credentials, the band gathered a series of crushing drum fills, and transformed them into a relentless, inherently danceable electro banger. “I love punk, I love cartoon punk, I think it’s brilliant,” Hall says. “Sometimes we get all that ‘you’re not shit, you’re not punk.’ Bullshit! Yes we are.” He also, however, knows that sometimes the best way to deliver his kind of message is to get people moving. “An iron fist in a velvet glove,” he says, hence the intensified focus on pure rhythm.
STAFF COMMENTSBarry says:
A stark, politically charged statement delivered through pummelling percussion and deftly delivered call-to-arms vocals. Moving from sparse, noisy electronics to anything-but-sparse blasts of distortion and hardcore grit. It's a savage, dense beast of an LP, and the ideal Benefits mission statement.
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