Although it’s the birthplace of the poet Ted Hughes, West Yorkshire’s Calder Valley is probably better known recently for being the location of the crime drama Happy Valley: the bleak storylines set amidst the alienating landscape of grey skies and windswept hills weren’t a ringing endorsement for the area. Two hundred miles away, the current post-punk resurgence has been centred in South London (although it isn’t exclusively from there), and The Lounge Society, four youthful post-punk upstarts from Calder Valley, have a sound and mindset that aligns them with that movement, despite their remote surroundings.
The quartet first rose to wider note off the back of 2020’s “Generation Game”, a searing lament of the political climate that was typical fare for their genre. They soon signed with Speedy Wunderground, Dan Carey producing their new EP, Silk For The Starving. These things in and of themselves, though, aren’t enough to gain prominence: British guitar music has become a cluttered field in an astoundingly short space of time, when seemingly each week throws us a new plucky group of teenagers who idolise Mark E. Smith.
This is where the quiet locale of The Lounge Society ultimately works in their favour. Unsurprisingly vocal about the current malaise of their country, the group set the grievances of these tracks within Calder Valley; it’s a clever inverse of lyricism that turns the personal into the universal. The EP begins with “Burn The Heather”, the song wryly discussing the use of local grassland which is destroyed for the useless pursuit of grouse shooting. It’s also an immensely groovy track, with some of the most prominent use of cowbell this side of Blue Oyster Cult. Silk For The Starving closes with “Valley Bottom Fever”, a rousing indictment of small towns with their small mindsets, “A drug town with a tourist problem,” as frontman Cameron Davey bemoans. There’s something of the cocksure nature of Fat White Family about Davey and the rest of the band, Gang of Four being a forbearing touchstone.
In between, “Television” continues the danceable factor, its name an undoubted nod, in some part, to post-punk legends Television. Jangly guitars and a bubbling rhythm drive Davey’s acerbic musings on our digital age – incredibly fertile ground for current post-punk music – shouting “Genocide makes for good TV.” Carey is clearly careful to nurture the band’s rawness on Silk For The Starving, most notably on the jittery “Cain’s Heresy”, with its anxious guitar line and frantic drumbeat.
In the week where British schoolchildren were urged to sing the praises of their state in a ghastly display of propaganda, they’d do well to ignore their fearless leader and listen to a band like The Lounge Society instead: like it or not, the current post-punk revival is inherently political, the sound of the Brexit Generation tired of the charlatans in power and the uncertainty of these times. The Lounge Society may hold their West Yorkshire home to heart, but their unrestrained honesty about it in Silk For The Starving is a necessity. Moving onto any full-length album, they would do well to set their stall in their rural surroundings, and continue to grow another articulate post-punk enclave in the country. As Davey snarled in “Generation Game”, “There’s a generation staring down the barrel of a gun / But you won’t ever find them on the cover of The Sun.”