Millencolin – SOS

Nine albums into a 27-year career, Millencolin have shown an incredible amount of durability. One would think that after almost three decades into a run, some wear and tear would start to show. Yet these Swedish skate punks have managed to do the opposite. SOS may sound like a Millencolin album, but by injecting an unending sense of urgency and poise into a tried and tested formula, have remarkably found new resolve.

That formula of course, is blazing fast melodies over razor sharp guitar work, machine gun percussions and soaring vocal harmonies that would make the Offspring blush. It’s what has worked for Millencolin since Tiny Tunes and incredibly, sounds even better today than it did on their breakthrough album Life on a Plate.

From the opening salvo of “SOS” to the breakneck pace of “Nothing”, Millencolin really mean business. Nikola Šarčević sounds as angry as he’s ever been on these tracks, spitting out vitriol with the kind of vocal urgency that made Zoli Teglas a household name.

While these tracks sound great, Millencolin’s appeal wasn’t always unrelenting fury. Like they have done before, they’ve managed to blend up-tempo punk with more wistful moments (the terrific “Sour Days”), a little bit of pogo (“Do You Want War”) and a lot of the cheek and youthful energy that made listeners fall in love with them back in 1995.

SOS is quite the succinct album too; there is no bloat, no filler, something that’s hard to do 9 albums into a career. Sure, the fast-paced “Yanny & Laurel” is fantastic, but in songs like “Reach You”, Millencolin find the perfect balance between pop punk’s saccaharine flavours and skate punk’s melodic highs. It is however, the closing track “Carry On” that Millencolin have hit their apex. Part melancholia, part life-affirming reflection, it is soaring guitars, gang vocals and the best song they’ve written in a long time. Where “Bullion” was the band making their announcement to the world, “Carry On” is their rubber stamping opus.

When someone asks “What does the new Millencolin album sound like?”, the easiest answer is to say, “it sounds like Millencolin”. The majority of listeners will know what that sounds like. You can look at that as a negative but when you think about it, it is strong praise for a band whose poise has never wavered in the face of music’s ever-changing landscape. It’s a natural continuation of True Brew, and SOS is aurally and musically better.

What does the new Millencolin sound like? It sounds like a Millencolin album. A damn good Millencolin album.

(Epitaph Records)