Debut albums are a funny thing, aren’t they? They are your means to announce yourself to the world, to make a mark and set out your stall.
And, given that they’re the one record you’ve got all the time in the world to make, they often end up being a band’s best work.
Most of all, though, they’re exciting. No pressure. Just get them out.
Unless, of course, people are already watching. Then they get scarier.
Which is where Puppy come in.
You won’t get far into the story of their scintillating debut, The Goat, without seeing it labelled as ‘long awaited’ or words to that effect.
And it’s not surprising; Puppy have been slaves to the live scene since 2016 and their banging gigs, coupled with a pair of excellent EPs, have turned plenty of heads.
Now, finally, their debut album is here and it’s time to decide if this quirky trio have lived up to their potential.
Well, if you’ve been paying attention you’ll have already clocked that I’ve described this record as scintillating. So – spoiler alert – when it comes to delivering the goods, Puppy certainly have.
If ever you needed to hear quite what a band that was capable of playing Glastonbury and Bloodstock sounded like, The Goat is it. Just because no-one has previously made music that sounds like Weezer playing classic ’80s metal doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.
Quite the opposite in fact; it’s a joy.
From the opening drum fill of ‘Black Hole’ to the final notes of a re-worked Puppy classic, ‘Demons’, this album has everything that has helped this band establish itself: delicious melodies and grungy ’90s fuzz, all set over a Big Four metallic stomp that adds serious weight.
Songs like ‘Vengeance’, ‘And So I Burn’ and ‘World Stands Still’ sum this band up perfectly – riffs and hooks blended in a way that sounds like no one else.
It is metal? Yes. Is it sugary pop rock? Yes. Do they work together? Hell yes.
It’s also worth noting the chops on this record. Puppy are quite literal guitar heroes – they’ve featured on the famous computer game with a similar name – and this album is a celebration of the most important instrument around.
‘Poor Me’ makes you gurn, ‘Bathe In Blood’ makes you swoon and ‘Entombed’ just makes you play air guitar.
I’ve always loved watching Puppy play live – from the moment they prompted a bunch of middle-aged Megadeth fans to leave their set at Download 2016 simply by starting to sing, they had me hooked – but I’ve always worried that they were perhaps a little too laid back.
They sometimes came across as as either taking the piss or being there for a good time, rather than a long time. But, on the strength of The Goat, that good time is going to last.
They’ve not just finally got the debut album under their belts, they’ve put out an absolute banger that underlines what a serious band they are without losing any of their character.
And, even more exciting, it’s only the start; it merely hints at what this lot might be able to create.
The Goat is big, layered, fun and instantly memorable. You can – and will – sing along to every part of every song. It’s the sound of a band finally arriving and it sounds bloody great.
The Goat is will be released on Spinefarm Records on January 25th.