Album Review: The Briefs – “Platinum Rats”
Scarily, it’s almost two decades since I last encountered the Briefs – I reviewed their debut album Hit After Hit many many moons ago as a young fanzine journalist just starting out. Back then, this Portland group were somewhere in the middle of the pack of the whole frat-punk explosion which crept out of the States like a bad smell around the turn of the millennium. Sounding even more like the Descendents than 90s Green Day did, they had the requisite stoopid songs about subjects such as catching crabs on a one-night stand and wanting to kill Bob Seger, but without the “Osmonds gone punk with a load of fart jokes” pop sensibilities that the horrible likes of Blink 182, Wheatus, Fountains of Wayne etc did. They managed to pin down a major label deal for a couple of albums in the mid-noughties, but have been resolutely plugging it out on the independent scene since.
Anyway, some 20 years on and things remain largely unchanged in Briefs world. They’re still unlikely to get sued under the Trades Descriptions Act as Platinum Rats crams 12 tracks into just 28 minutes, and as the frenetic bursts of Shopping Spree and Nazi Disco show, they’re still doggedly clinging to their old copies of Milo Goes To College. However, the likes of Bad Vibrations, She’s The Rat and Dumb City show a latent Ramones/Buzzcocks influence has crept in over the last 20-odd years, which is at least some progress in the right direction I suppose. GMO Mosquito even passes the four-minute mark, which is pretty much an epic for these guys, although the tune itself isn’t that memorable sadly.
The other change is that, much like the Descendents themselves, the Briefs have grown from being fratboys cracking jokes about STDs into grumpy middle-aged men, and the likes of I Hate The World and Underground Dopes at least have a genuine anger behind them which makes them pretty much the highlights of this album. While it’s unlikely to change anyone’s world, Platinum Rats is at least a solid effort which should keep the fans happy.
More an album to keep existing fans happy than one that's likely to win them any new converts, at least "Platinum Rats" is a solid album from the Briefs which should consolidate things since they reformed a few years ago. I doubt it's the sort of album that'll change anyone's life drastically, but if you're desperate for some pop-punk at the moment then I guess there's worse records out there.