Friday 2 December 2022

The Bobby Lees - Bellevue

Label: Ipecac Recordings

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 07 Oct 2022


1. Bellevue

2. Hollywood Junkyard

3. Ma Likes A Drink

4. Death Train

5. Strange Days

6. Dig Your Hips

7. Have You Seen a Girl

8. In Low

9. Little Table

10. Monkey Mind

11. Greta Van Fake

12. Be My Enemy

13. Mystery Theme Song

When you're sent a promo of an album that's been released via Ipecac Recordings, you tend to take notice. The label that's called home by some of alternative/heavy music's greats including Fantomas, Melvins, Isis and countless others released the latest album from Woodstock, New York punks The Bobby Lees in October. Bellevue is the quartet's second album and this review is possible thanks to Ipecac Recordings, Speakeasy PR and Haulix, who have just rolled out their new Haulix+ promotional service.

I can see how The Bobby Lees found the home that they did in which to release this album. Their fast and sassy punk screams as if it were born in the 80s on opener ‘Bellevue’. It’s a short sharp shock that sets the tone but it also flatters to deceive as ‘Hollywood Junkyard’ is not as frenetic. They slow things down, but loose none of the attitude while doing so. Sound-wise, punk is very much the main ingredient but it’s also layered with a solid amount of rock, blues and even some of the madcap antics that helped Fantomas back in the day.

There’s a British influence flowing though ‘Ma Likes A Drink’ that I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it’s the unapologetic delivery that verges on snotty. Either way, it’s super catchy. Your utterly blindsided by the percussion on ‘Death Train’, which leads with it’s front food, providing a bouncing rhythm that the rest of the band has to catch up with. The bass and bluesy guitar work provides a subtle nod to horror-punk in places (I’m talking T.S.O.L) and the more accented, almost shrieked vocals give out more energy than they take.

It’s great to hear how The Bobby Lees can vary their sound so greatly without actually stepping too far from their original blueprint. Keys are employed on ‘Strange Days’ to provide a stripped down replacement to their full-on drumming and add to a much cleaner sound, yet it’s never too far away from the loud pedal, as the song’s second half shows.

My musical tastes must be evolving for sure because I used to be all about the really heavy and dissonant side of punk, but over the last few years I’ve been reaching for lighter, brighter and more danceable punk. This record is the perfect example of why that latter should not be overlooked and ‘Dig Your Hips’ is perfectly wound, as is the fuzzy, scuzzy quick-fire ‘Have You Seen a Girl”. All leather, brass studs and flipping v’s. 

By now you’re into the latter half of Bellevue and the songs have gotten shorter, and more urgent, especially ‘In Low’. It’s short and oh so catchy. It gives way to ‘Little Table’, which sounds like it’s rhythm and instrumentation was stolen straight from a Parisian blues/jazz cafe. I’m not complaining because it sounds brilliant.

That blues/jazz influence only grows on the amusingly titled ‘Monkey Mind’, with it’s twinkly keys and lyrics that could either be about the animal or human variety. I guess only the band knows which. Spoken word lyrics sound great in the right setting and  ‘Greta Van Fake’ is just that setting. More spoken than sung, they work perfectly up against the rock n roll underneath. 

Up till this point the music contained on Bellevue hasn’t been overly off-kilter, until penultimate song ‘Be My Enemy’ that is. Don’t get me wrong though, this isn’t artsy or progressive by any stretch but in the verses it’s certainly got something different going on that’s ear-pricking. Closing with ‘Mystery Theme Song’, The Bobby Lees lay to rest an album that’s infectiously enjoyable. Long enough to get lost in but short enough to keep you hooked. 

You can stream and purchase Bellevue on all formats below:-

The Bobby Lees -

Ipecac Recordings -

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