So, here in the apathetic 2000s, we find ourselves faced with the question: can anyone, photocopied-looking record sleeves scored with feverish prose or no, live up to being labelled "the Tamla Motown Sex Pistols"? Well, perhaps. The Action Time are a meaningful experience insofar as they provide a timely restatement of the assumptions underlying a lot of the less blunt, driftier "independent" music we currently find ourselves wondering whether we like. They rhyme "messed up" with "dressed up", they live in a neatly hostile three-boy, three-girl world, they swear, they stamp, they shout. And, frankly, good luck to 'em. True, there's about as much original mileage in trichordal rock'n'roll rebellion as there is in gently photographing and framing the tattered remnants of one's broken heart on record, but the latter's never stopped anyone else being compelling and the former - well, on the right night, nothing beats it.
The old-style girl group/punk connection works something like this: one blanket theme of disaffection and combativeness ("you can't break people if they don't believe / my cynicism's like a shield to me"), then a supercharged mixture of sweet harmonies and impassioned screaming. This album is not about variety. It is about throwing up the defences (and throwing shapes). Something makes me suspect that the Action Time will be a hit with Comet Gain acolytes: strugglingly articulate pique with handclaps, as sung (waveringly) by glossy-haired boys with guitars and (angelically) by retro-styled girls. If anything, though, they're more pissed off. They do throw in a few token sonic fastballs like the more subduedly melancholy "(We're Just) Killing Time" - one of the best tracks, incidentally - but basically this is a loud, fast and angry record berating pretty much everything. Just the way they used to make 'em. And, after all: if cynicism is ever a virtue, it's probably when you can dance to it.
8Kate Dornan's Score