Bilk : Bilk

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Bilk self-titled album

If every generation is seeking one special band or artist as their icon—someone who speaks uniquely to and for them—hen Bilk’s self-titled debut very much presents itself as an application to the role on behalf of Gen Z. Today’s young adults (so argue Bilk’s lyrics, penned by frontman Sol Abrahams) have stumbled out of adolescence and into a world devoid of opportunity or sincerity, and where almost everyone—from callous politicians to vapid celebrity influencers—seem to have a greater say in how you should live your life than you do. Relationships are fickle, ambition is almost non-existent, and there is literally nothing to do but drink.

But don’t let this cynical outlook fool you, because Bilk, at heart, is party music, populated with strong, commanding hooks and busy, pounding beats that are plainly designed to be unselfconsciously thrashed-out to in a limb-filled mosh pit. The instrumentation is pulsing and forthright, and, combined with the band’s cocky persona, gives them the impression of a young AC/DC if it were fronted by the Essex-born reincarnation of Liam Gallagher. Indeed, songs like “Brand New Day” or “Daydreamer” tap into the exact same kind of frustrated yearning to get the hell out of dodge that’s deep set into the DNA of Definitely, Maybe. Meanwhile, “Hummus and Pitta” is an ode to that all-too-familiar scene of a night out gone awry, and “Part and Parcel” bemoans the loss of long-gone childhood days where our largest responsibility was playing Club Penguin.

Bilk’s constant hunt for relatability does sometimes run it into some trouble. “Nowadays, people love you if you’re fake / But they hate on you if you’re real,” spits Abrahams on the album’s third single “Be Someone.” He’s got a point. The issue, though, isn’t that he’s too real, but that he doesn’t always seem real enough There’s a difference that Bilk doesn’t quite crack between telling us stories and simply relaying stereotypes; when the Arctic Monkeys, for example, wanted to tell their listeners about a violent bouncer, they describe him as “The scary one / His way or no way, totalitarian / He’s got no time for you looking or breathing how he don’t want you to / So step out the queue!” Bilk’s take on the same topic? “It’s likely that we’ll get kicked out / ‘Cause the bouncers are quite mean.”

It would be churlish to conclude that this has alienated the band from their target audience—their steadily growing streams and well-attended live shows suggest otherwise—it’s just that these sorts of lyrics can stand in the way of their oft-stated aim of creating music that truly feels authentic. And that’s something they’re more than capable of—at its best, Bilk delivers exhilarating polemics like “Fashion,” which takes on exploitative influencer culture, or “10 O’Clock,” the album’s surprisingly sensitive closer. Anybody can tell it like it is; it’s when Bilk are offering a personal (perhaps even vulnerable) perspective on things that they’re really at the top of their game.

Label: Scruff of the Neck

Year: 2023

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