Varsity – Thanks For Nothing EP

Varsity - Thanks For Nothing EP

Varsity – Thanks For Nothing EP

Varsity’s EP arrived in my inbox and it’s one of these releases that whether you appreciate exactly what the band is about or you just want to say ‘that’s retro’ and move on, but you wouldn’t be dismissive if you heard Thanks For Nothing and its six tracks completely. Why? Starting with opening song “New Wave”, which adeptly reconfigures the entire Blondie back catalogue into a single 4 minute powerpop anthem, Varsity reveals itself as skillfully reinterpreting classic punk pop.  As the group avoids irony in favor of songwriting you might just decide that there’s more going on with them than just remaking “Parallel Lines”.

You’d give them that though. If your nearest music club put on a late 70s tribute show and Varsity turned up, you’d get a thoroughly good evening’s entertainment. This is real pop music with a timeless quality and Varsity know exactly what made Blondie, The Motels, ‘Til Tuesday and all those other female fronted actual New Wave bands so memorable in their own late 70s/8os heydays. I haven’t heard a band portray this particular strand of music quite so well since I heard The Epoxies. Varsity avoid monochrome quirkiness to just let the melodies carry and vocalist Stephanie has a sparkling clarity in her voice that could melt platinum. While she was practising. At Home. Let alone in the studio or at a gig. The rest of the band – and there are three, four or five of them depending on which website you look at – perform a backing that’s a near virtuoso display of spikily energetic melodies.

In my bookcase is a biography by Blondie’s original bassist Gary Valentine entitled “New York Rocker” and they are undeniably one 70s band whose music has lasted over the decades. Varsity, while they do owe some form of creative debt to Debbie Harry et al, are only using the music of Blondie and others as a starting point for their inspirations and importantly (if you think music is something important) are able to just play their own songs and remind their listeners of exactly why the music of some bands deserves the term ‘classic’ as a prefix. If you heard Varsity on the radio, you’d want to know who they were.

Listen to Thanks For Nothing