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'No Going Back'
(Rigid Digits)
Out Now

Nik Underwood

nik underwood

stiff little fingers

'No Going Back' is the tenth studio album by Belfast punk stalwarts SLF and while the title may allude to a desire to live in the now and a forward thinking attitude, for better or worse the band will always be associated with their 1977 incendiary debut 'Inflammable Material' and its follow up 'Nobody's Heroes' which provided their biggest hits and the inspiration for the platinum pop-punkers of the early 90s (stand up Green Day, Rancid).

The 90s weren't quite so kind to the Fingers themselves however and a few patchy records did little to help the cause ('Tinderbox', 'Hope Street') but by 2003 and the release of 'Guitar And Drum' the boys had finally returned to form.

And since then? Well, not a lot really. 'No Going Back' has been a long time coming and indeed some of it's tracks have been creeping in to the live setlist for a long time and one could be forgiven for thinking the world has moved on.

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But not so as in 2014 we can rest assured that Jake Burns is still railing against injustice, greedy bankers, corporate misbehaviour, politicians, priests and you apathetic lot for not standing up for what you believe in!

Lead off track 'Liar's Club' with it's twisting Psychobilly-esque riff takes a thinly veiled swipe at messers Bush and Blair and while not mentioned directly you can't help but picture Tony when Jake sings "you stand there grinning like a clown".

'My Dark Places' and 'Full Steam Backwards' are on more familiar pop-punk territory, jaunty rhythms and melodic choruses, the latter song's bass intro reminding us that original four-stringer Ali McMordie has returned to the fold where he belongs.

stiff little fingers

Having influenced a whole host of bands over the years its pretty easy to pick out the sound-alikes such as the Wildhearts and Less Than Jake when we get tracks 'I Just Care About Me' and the ska tinged 'Don't Mind Me'.

The fact that SLF are currently on tour in America with The Offspring, Pennywise and Bad Religion shows not only their longevity but also the regard in which they are held overseas despite being often overlooked at home.

And speaking of home things take a turn for the folk on the acoustic 'Guilty As Sin', a lament for the victims of the abuse scandals in the church. From here to the end though it's straight ahead rock.

'One Man Island' leads into the anthemic 'Throwing It All Away' for which guitarist Ian McCallum takes over lead vocals. The song has echoes of 'When The Stars Fell From The Sky' from 1994s 'Get A Life' and McCallum's voice has a gutsy tone that compliments Jake's higher range.

stiff little fingers

Drummer Steve Grantley is once again back behind the kit and although by no means an original member he has been involved for nearly 20 years and in fact knew the band well from touring together with his old outfit The Alarm. Solid as ever Grantley powers things along yet has a lightness of touch when required.

Closing two songs, 'Since Yesterday Was Here' and 'When We Were Young', stand to remind us that while time marches on certain attitudes remain the same, reassuringly so for those that bang the drum and frustratingly so for those that still tell you to keep the noise down.

The recording of 'No Going Back' was fan funded and those who pledged their cash have had the finished product since April and it now gets a general and digital release through the bands' own Rigid Digits label. It seems to be the done thing for an act like the Fingers who will never sell in the millions but who have a loyal fan base and are on the road for most of the year winning new supporters one gig at a time by keeping the torch still burning.

As already stated, this album has been a long time coming and I have to say it is an absolute (fire) cracker! The songs are powerful and punchy, and while they maybe will never resonate with the same anger, desperation, urgency and aggression of those early albums, they are a fine addition to the cannon and a testament to the fact that there is no shame in growing old disgracefully.

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