Stevenage trio, Good Cop, associate with the cluster of powerviolence and hardcore bands in North Hertfordshire, but their sound is far different to their peers. Led by vocalist, Alfie Sell, the self-declared anarcho-screamo punks grew up listening to artists on the Rise Records roster and discovered the obtuse guitar melodies of the post-hardcore/emo greats along the way. Having Fun at Gunpoint is their debut EP after a one-off single to commemorate the recent Queen’s jubilee called ‘Flagshagger’, which contained the immortal lines: “Fuck the Jubilee/ Feed the poor/ Hang the fucking Queen/ Feed the poor.” We must ask the question: do the youth of today have even more reason to be pissed off?
Opener, *Loads Rifle with Anarchist Intent*, rallies against the parasitic high earners of society that ‘keep us in a state of panicked anxiety and radical competitive individualism’, according to the Marxist sociologist quoted in the commentary. Clearly, the band members of Good Cop see no value in the economic advantages of living on the London commuter belt, nor will they be applying for graduate positions at Goldman Sachs any time soon. ‘Waiting for the End of the World’ is the type of gnarly hardcore punk that avoids the macho fifth chords and tough guy posturing in favour of guitar lines built on natural harmonics. Think Fugazi and Sunny Day Real Estate from the early 1990s but with sporadic death metal growls and a flurry of double-kick patterns at the end. “Keep pushing us to the fucking edge/ Are you going to be surprised when we end up dead?/ A whole generation sentenced to the guillotine,” roars Alfie Sell. Ouch!
‘Dipsomania’ is a reminder what emo sounded like in the era of Drive Like Jehu before the major label pop-punk and teen angst brigades co-opted it into their culture. Good Cop could not be any further removed from the modern corruption of what was once a promising sub-culture, although you might be surprised by their ear for melody. The vocals are hostile, and the amps are in overdrive, but the chord choices foster a luscious distortion synonymous with post-hardcore. You’ll nod your head with approving eyebrows in standout track, ‘A Case Study in Self-Destruction’. The sophistication of melody will appeal to the Quicksand fanbase as much as the Husker Du nostalgists, yet the seismic aggression and incorporation of low-end metallic groove riffs justify the spasmodic growl vocals. Closing track, ‘One Off the Wrist’, is emo with blast beats. See if you can hold back your empathic rage during the forty-three seconds of this tuneful sabotage. Can you?
Though still in the promising phase of their career, Good Cop show here that they have an abundance of musical potential that might one day match the intensity of their politics. A bigger emphasis on the crunchier bottom-end guitar riffs could help them calibrate their sound between the urgency of post-hardcore and the malevolence of powerviolence on their next record, but their determination to explore melodies in the strangest of places could also be the thread that holds them together.
One suspects that the trio of Good Cop have only one rule, which is to write aggressive music that satisfies their needs rather than any tastemaker’s requirements. And for that, they deserve respect.
Release Date: 10/06/2022
Record Label: Self Released
Standout tracks: Dipsomania, A Case Study in Self-Destruction
Suggested Further Listening: Drive Like Jehu – Yank Crime (1994), Death Goals – The Horrible and the Miserable (2021), Sunny Day Real Estate – Diary (1994)