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Song You Need to Know: Ringlets, ‘New Life’

The Auckland post-punk band breathe ‘new life’ into the limited edition 7″



Léa Taillefer

Ringlets are wry, don’t you know.

That word has been bandied about in various descriptions of the band, including just this week: a press release praised the Auckland post-punk band’s frontman Leith Towers as possessing an “oft-wry lyrical delivery”; he was also described as being a “laissez-faire vocalist.”

Wry wordplay abounded in their self-titled debut album that so impressed last year, placing them in similar territory to contemporaneous post-punk bands like Shame and Dry Cleaning and Yard Act through the incisive inclusion of humour in their songs.

With a new single and an appearance at the upcoming JUNK FEST to promote, Ringlets proved that being wry isn’t reserved for their music during an appearance on 95bFM’s breakfast show this morning: guitarist László Reynolds and bassist Arabella Poulsen crunched their way through an excruciating interview, choosing to loudly eat an apple while answering questions.

Like Donny Tourette on Never Mind the Buzzcocks if he had a keen interest in healthy digestion, their wanton insouciance came off abrasively, whether intended or not. “Sorry, I didn’t have time to have breakfast this morning,” Reynolds joked following one particularly lengthy bite. (There’s a larger point to be made here about the optics of acting that way during a promotional interview in a time when the New Zealand music journalism ecosystem is shrinking on a seemingly monthly basis, but that wouldn’t be a wry enough point for an article involving Ringlets.)

But here’s the thing: the single they were ostensibly promoting, “New Life”, is good enough to do the talking for Ringlets.

After a busy percussive start that recalls the underrated English post-punk Duds, “New Life” explodes into a wonderful new wave style that vibrates with life – new life – and demands that you play it again immediately after one listen ends.

Towers, who we praised as being a “commanding leading presence” last year, has perhaps never sounded more formidable as their frontman, his enjoyably elastic vocals matching the jittery rhythm of the song. “New life, best life, fast life, new life,” he cries in the bright singalong chorus, the heat and the feeling rising in both listener and performer. (There still remain flecks of early ’00s British post-punk – Bloc Party and their ilk – in the anthemic qualities to Ringlets’ music.)

“New Life” superbly builds on the successes of their debut album, still showcasing their propensity for theatricality and playfulness. And if it’s a taste of the sonic direction the band are taking heading into their second album, it promises much to come.

So, Ringlets, let your music speak for itself moving forward – and perhaps bring some apples to amusingly crunch on during your JUNK FEST set in two weeks, in order to win back some goodwill.

Ringlets’ “New Life” is out now. The “New Life” & “Scam Me” limited edition 7″ is out Friday, June 7th via Leather Jacket Records / Flying Nun Records (pre-order here).