UK gutter punks Chubby and the Gang have released the B-side to their latest single ‘Lightning Don’t Strike Twice’, the complete left-turn ballad ‘Life’s Lemons’.
Yes, a ballad. You’re not reading that wrong. London’s most ferocious hardcore outfit have put out a 1950s style love song, complete with doo-wop backing vocals and a guitar solo that can only be described as “tasteful”. They’re not doing it tongue-in-cheek style either: there’s no winking absurdity or abandoning of the style halfway through as a sort of high-concept fake out for their real new song.
The band is fully committed to the prom ballad concept, and it endears the group to me even more than they were already a fully endearing and likeable group of miscreants creating loud and distorted and gleefully energetic punk. Now they’re a fully endearing and likeable group of miscreants creating loud and distorted and gleefully energetic punk while also being able to handle other genres and styles.
‘Life’s Lemons’ probably doesn’t signal a change in direction for the band, however. The song is explicitly a B-side to the driving and country-fried punk of ‘Lightning Don’t Strike Twice’, and B-sides historically find bands fucking around, goofing off, or throwing away tracks that aren’t good enough to find a place on proper albums. So if you’re going to give a song the unceremonious status of a B-side, you might as well go full bore into experimental, uncharted, and unexpected territory. For a band like Chubby and the Gang, that means getting earnest, ornate and oddly pretty.
There are lots of words I would use to describe Chubby and the Gang before “pretty” would come up on the list. But what a wonderful surprise, then, to see a group pay direct, unironic homage to a type of song that hasn’t been mainstream for nearly 70 years. It makes me want to watch American Graffiti, or the prom scene from Back to the Future when the band plays ‘Earth Angel’. ‘Life’s Lemons’ is a delight.
Check out the audio for ‘Life’s Lemons’ down below.