The Stormy Petrel
No Idea 2010
“That frock could cure a duck with chronic hiccups/Faster than a fat man can do the sit-ups.” The ramblings of a psycho, or a glimpse into the mind of a genius? A lot of geniuses are psychos, including Frankie Norman Warsaw Stubbs of seminal English punk rock outfit Leatherface. If you’re into post-hardcore, and are not yet a fan of Stubbs & Co. — as Mike Hale of Gunmoll and In The Red so clearly is — it’s time to get on board. If you are already a fan, it’s likely that you wouldn’t have heard Leatherface if it weren’t for bands like Hot Water Music.
In truth, Leatherface created the “Gainesville sound” long before even Gainesville did. The Stormy Petrel is the long-running band’s eighth studio album since debut Cherry Knowle came out in 1989, and it follows the same melodic punk with sweet marble-mouthed lyrics template as previous offerings. There aren’t any soaring anthems, such as the ones found on 1991’s Mush or the much-loved “Andy” from their BYO Split Series Vol. One with Hot Water Music. The Stormy Petrel is a bit toned-down but wonderful nevertheless, and will surely be loved by the Husker Du, Lifetime, and Jawbreaker crowd.
“Diego Garcia” features the flawless punk harmonizing that Leatherface does as well as anyone, while “Broken” is a powerful mid-tempo classic. The arrangements are aptly more mature than today’s mall punk, as is obviously the subject matter. Throughout the album, themes are emotionally driven but worn a little deeper than Stubbs’ sleeves. With his rotating lineups of the past, he plays the roles of anchor and bandleader, with that “I’m going to spit and curse and play punk music, but I am still English and I am still a gentleman” demeanor.
From an outsider’s perspective, those raspy lyrics sound awfully pessimistic. Stubbs’ views on the world as a whole are dark, but Leatherface seems to have created an alternative world, completely based in reality. And it’s a good one to be part of.