Optimist Club - Ripped & Psyched: How To Be A Winner

Liam McGrady 21/09/2006

Rating: 5/5

“Optimist Club are one of my favourite bands ever.” (Me, Just now)

An unfortunate trait of gaining in years is that you tend to become less excited about supposed trivial things like bands. Attending every single gig by a band, spouting ridiculous statements like the one above, telling your mates that “the lead singer brushed past me today; he actually touched me”, being too in awe of their music to speak a solitary word in their direction; these are the actions of an early teen in the first flushes of a blinkered - and usually ill advised - obsession. Guess I'm just having an early mid life crisis and descending back to teen-hood then.

Optimist Club were the first band I encountered on moving to London that I'd never heard of before. It was absolutely love at both first sight and sound. The way they all hurled themselves around so recklessly yet were the tightest band I'd ever heard, the loudest band I'd ever heard, left me open mouthed, clutching an untouched pint so hard I'm surprised the glass didn't shatter. But it wasn't just the volume and frenetic stage antics that overwhelmed me. They had time changes more awkward than typing the word “awkward”, yet you sensed that it wasn't a case of intentional contrariness; just each member's passion and emotion spilling out and merging together to somehow create something brutal, beautiful; bewildering. The riffs were slightly on the sinister side, dark toned and cutting through the rhythm section like bad tempered musical geometry. The sound coming from the drumkit was constantly verging on chaotic - bass drum and toms shuffling away from the mighty blows; cymbals a blur of bronze. And then there was the focal point of the band, a wiry young man, eyes bulging, vocal chords visibly straining, leaping from the stage into the crowd and back again, yelping, roaring and screaming. I think I've said before on these pages that they made me not care that I never saw ATD-I before they imploded, but they also made me realise that my taste was far too firmly rooted in the safe and melodic; and opened me up to a whole new world of louder, faster and heavier music.

They way I've wrote the above, in past tense, may look like some kind of obituary, but Optimist Club are still very much alive and kicking. You see, they've made this 8 track, 22 minute album called 'Ripped & Psyched: How To Be A Winner' - and here's what I think of it:

“'Ripped & Psyched: How To Be A Winner' is one of my favourite albums ever” (Me, Just now)

Optimist Club Myspace