From West Cork via Berlin and New York come First Class & Coach (Reuben Maher – guitar/keys/vocals, Geraldine Thomas – vocals, Jonathan Parson – bass, Andrew McNeilage – drums) with their debut album, ‘The Truth About Honey’.
Despite this being their first, the band are well experienced musicians, albeit in different guises. Maher has played on the New York circuit for over 20 years with bands Toulouse, Poka Poka and The Blam, while Thomas has performed and composed music all over Europe and the USA, perhaps most notably with electro-punks Shock Therapy. McNeilage is a recent graduate of BIMM Dublin with years of experience in the West Cork music scene.
‘The Truth About Honey’ is the latest release in the current wave of post-punk revival albums. Taking cues from the likes of The Fall and The Velvet Underground, the album opens with the hat-trick of Holy Shit, 2014 and Punk Rick, all straightforward rockers that set the pace of the album – distorted, squalling guitars, driving bass and muscular drums punctuated by uncompromising vocals.
First Class & Coach are not, however, one-trick ponies. The band’s sound also encompasses reverb-drenched piano and German vocals (Wasser, Micha). On Lullaby, a welcome change of pace, they channel their inner Sonic Youth with emotive spoken word, stream-of-consciousness lyrics, prayer bell harmonics and crushing guitar chords on the song’s refrain: “What a waste of time and money / the truth about you and honey.”
Though the all-out rockers on ‘The Truth About Honey’ are fun to listen to, First Class & Coach are at their most interesting when they delve into unusual sonic textures. The piano-led sprechgesang of Wasser serves as the album’s centrepiece. Burn Motherfucker Burn sees the band experiment with electronic sounds while Micha is underpinned by impressionistic guitar soundscapes.
Geraldine Thomas proves herself as the band’s secret weapon on Detroit, her most melodic and emotional vocal performance on the album. She recalls a horrific incident that happened when she was touring with Shock Therapy against a backdrop of dissonant guitar squeals.
All in all, ‘The Truth About Honey’ is a well-thought out and compelling listen, and a solid debut from a band not content to dwell within a modern interpretation of post-punk.