British Indie pop/rock foursome Puppet Theory is the latest band to emerge from the vibrant Manchester music scene. They bring a fresh approach to their music, fusing old-school Brit-pop/rock with punk and alternative influences. On September 21, they dropped their debut EP Buttons – a collection of four infectious, high-energy songs guaranteed to put you in a good mood and make you dance around like – well, a puppet on a string!
I first learned of Puppet Theory when they followed me on Twitter a few days ago and, given their fun, upbeat music and sense of humor, I’m already a big fan. On their website, they state “Puppet Theory have the perfect blend of UK influences, consisting of 2 Mancunians, a Scouser and a Southerner whose energy, edginess and musical expertise work together to create an unforgettable set.” For those of us non-Brits, a ‘Mancunian’ is a person from Manchester and a ‘Scouser’ is from Liverpool. In their Facebook bio, they identify themselves as follows: Johnny – Little strings and sings; Chris – Little strings and sings; Niall – Big strings; Paul – Hits things. How endearing is that?
Puppet Theory began life when Johnny and Paul started jamming together, feeling an instant connection. Knowing they needed a strong vocalist/lyricist who could serve as band front man, they held auditions and enlisted Chris after he impressed them with his songwriting ideas. Finally, after auditioning four other bassists, they were blown away by Niall’s playing and signed him on the spot, completing the band line-up. They’re thrilled to now have their first EP out so music junkies like me can enjoy their music.
The first track, “Young & Youthful,” immediately hooks you with an irresistibly catchy melody, though the poignant lyrics speak to anxiety over transitioning from youth to adulthood. The song bursts open with shredded guitars and pounding drums, led by a buzzing bassline. Another guitar riff is introduced, intertwining with the shredded guitars, and Chris plaintively sings: “When did we get old? Someone should have told me that I don’t know what it is all about. Give me some time to figure it out. I’ll get there.”
Pulsating guitars, strong bass and Paul’s assertive drums – accentuated by lots of crashing cymbals – highlight the catchy title track “Buttons.” The strong third track “Room to Breathe” has a distinct Foo Fighters vibe, most noticeable in the excellent main guitar riff. The final track “Do You Know” treats us to more awesome blistering guitars and dynamic percussion that appear to be a hallmark of Puppet Theory’s sound. The song seems to end at 4:30, then starts up again with a dramatic guitar solo that’s a sped up version of the main song riff for another 30 seconds. Interestingly, the band is the third that I’ve reviewed over the past month or so to utilize this stop and start up again technique in a song.
All in all, Buttons is a strong debut for Puppet Theory, who I think have a promising future, given not only their talent, but their strong chemistry and charisma. Show them support by checking out their Website, following them on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to their YouTube channel. Stream Buttons on Spotify or purchase on iTunes.