Ralph are from Stockton. Their newest EP “Dougie Murphy’s Law” features a track called “Rise up” on which they rage against Trump’s Border Wall… Another track “2019” is comprised of a massive speech… Is this bit “much”? … it’s not profound or genuinely rousing – despite my agreeing with the sentiment… Why is a band from Stockton singing about American politics?
It was at this point I realised that Stockton is not “on-tees”, it’s “in-California”.
“Searching for Nicole” is a barrage of American songwriting cliches, a song that not only rhymes “Pledge” with “Ledge” but throws in classics as “Run away with me tonight” – “Underneath these stars so bright” – “Drive all night”. These sit awkwardly over instrumentation that never really convinces you of any modicum of authentic punkness.
‘Minnesota Nice’ harks back to a growly Matt-Freeman-Jello Biafra-Rocky-horror-picture-show-screaming-jay-hawkins immitation type thing. It feels almost like parody, but it’s all in good spirits.
Thankfully Ralph occasionally settle into a more comfortable place on this release. Endearing folk-punk storytelling tracks in the vein of all those mid 90s punk revival mainstays. The kind of songs that might normally be about jumping over fences and escaping small-town life, namechecking local eccentrics. These are undoubtedly, intentionally a bit daft but the band sound like they’re into it, and sound more sincere when occupying this space. The vocal harmonies are proficient on these folkier countryish ones, and the lead vocal delivery is more confident. Occasionally reminding me of that properly faux-Southern Jagger period.
Ralph have their heart in the right place, but lyrical clichés and lack of any believable raw emotion mean that it falls short. It’s all in good fun but it sounds like it’s been written by teenagers, a rehash of all the least interesting things about pop-punk.
Every time Ralph stray from this insistent pop-punk everything feels like it comes together, like they mean it.