The #1s
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The #1s

Dublin, Leinster, Ireland | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

Dublin, Leinster, Ireland | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Rock Garage Rock

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The best kept secret in music

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Rating 7.9

There’s a pub in Dublin called the Thomas House, west enough of the trendy Temple Bar district to keep away the tourists. It’s a punk pub, and on any given night, you’re as likely to see a wizened Oi! band like Angelic Upstarts as you are to see a gaunt, bald man with an acoustic guitar strumming a harrowing cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Lungs”. They serve food, as long as you consider a packet of Tayto crisps to be dinner. In the men’s room, the walls are thickly plastered—not with gig flyers or snot, but with a yellowing pantheon of superheroes cut out of old Jack Kirby comics.
It’s the kind of place you could easily imagine The #1s playing in, and sure enough, they sometimes do. The power-pop foursome have been kicking around the Dublin scene for a couple of years now, although members of the band also play in various other groups like Cheap Freaks, the Pacifics, and Cian Nugent & the Cosmos. But The #1s’ self-titled debut album marks the point where this scene may start to get noticed a bit more: it's more ambitious and unabashedly brilliant than four modest walls can contain.
“Heartsmash” is the album’s lead single, and it couldn’t have been better plucked from the pack. A stuttering drum beat similar to the Strokes’ “Hard to Explain” launches it off, but from there the song takes a gleeful belly-flop backward into the classic power-pop era of the late 1970s. The #1s hail from the Republic of Ireland, but they not-so-secretly owe a big debt to Northern Ireland’s bouncy punk scene from 35 years ago—in particular, the groups Rudi, Protex, and naturally the Undertones. Instead of leaning on the default setting of The Undertones’ “Teenage Kicks” phase, though, “Heartsmash” is more in tune with that band's 1980 effort Hypnotised: still bratty, but less frantic, and with a self-awareness that revels in its own lovesick ache. Guitarist Seán Goucher sings in a sugary, swooning yelp, then he screams like his leg got caught in a trap. Tenderness and desperation collide and combine, thrillingly.
The #1s' songs are simple on the surface, but a sophisticated sense of craft lurks beneath the popped pimples and crumpled beer cans. On “Sharon Shouldn’t”—one of four album tracks that appeared in less evolved forms on prior cassette and 7” releases—singer/guitarist Eddie Kenrick takes the lead, his voice more clear and keening than Goucher’s heart-in-throat croon. Melodies drift fluidly through rapid-pulse riffs. Minor chords whizz by, microbursts of melancholy that add dimension but never threaten to drag, and that goes double for “Boy” and its back-to-back sequel, “Girl”. The first is a fizzy, tinny tribute to garage-pop rawness buoyed by Nugent’s bubbly bass runs; the second is a ballad awash in wobbly romanticism and a piercing sense of helpless chivalry.
The dynamic is giddy, and it evokes something even more gut-punching, as this is music for the mood swings that come with the onset of chronic love. The hooks sink deep, and they cling with all their might. It’s a continuum that stretches from Buzzcocks to the Exploding Hearts, on to more recent proponents such as Something Fierce and Gentleman Jesse. The #1s are the greenest of the lot, but they’ve been around the power-pop block long enough to know the best spots to stop in for a good pint and a good cry.
Power-pop comes and goes in a cycle that’s about as long as a doe-eyed freshman’s transformation into an oh-so-weary senior. At heart, though, the genre’s best bands bottle the most ephemeral substance imaginable—youth—and pickle it to perfection. They make lust, discovery, and impulsive desire resonate not just with young people, but with anyone who’s ever considered themselves in any way young. Power-pop quite often seems sickly saccharine; don’t trust it if it doesn’t. But great power-pop is sweet and sour at the same time, an alchemy of new hormones and old souls. The #1s know this in their bones, and their album is a master class in that eternal truth. It zings and zooms with all the pop-art spunk of a pub wall papered in cut-up comic books: faded and tattered but still fantastically bright. - Pitchfork


There is nothing quite as sick as a killer power-pop song. There's something about a badass riff coupled with a killer vocal melody that will keep you coming back and back and back. I guess it's no wonder people fuck with bands like Dinosaur Jr and The Replacements so heavy.

Dublin band The #1s are definitely power pop too, but more fall in line with bands like The Exploding Hearts or Buzzcocks; they're punk-inflected, uber-catchy and totally repeatable. Their song "heartsmash"? Fuck, it rules. Stream that song from their self-titled debut LP below, and look for it via Deranged on August 5th. - Noisey


Discography

Sharon Shouldn't 7" Sorry State Records/Alien Snatch Records
Big Itch Club 7" w/September Girls & Faux Kings Bachelor Records
The #1s 7" Art For Blind Records
Italia '90 cassette Self Released

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