The Inklings – ‘Return of the Puppets’ (self-released, 2024)

According to the great fountain of knowledge that is the internet, The Inklings are a Teesside-based music collective formed by two members of now-defunct Billingham punk band Zeitgeist 77. The trio are comprised thusly: Darren Thomas (vocal/guitar), Mick McGee (bass) and James Thomas (drums/keyboards).

Return of the Puppets‘ is the band’s fifth (I think?) full length album since December 2020. Has anybody else had this much of a hectic release schedule? I’d be hard pushed to think of another example. Maybe there’s jack-shit else to do in Teeside apart from drinking heavily and writing songs? More power to ’em, mate. Key areas of extracurricular interest in my own home town of Barnsley seem to lean heavily into binge drinking, taking Spice and spousal battery, by recent reports…

To my ear, the band seem to be pushing a more traditional take on the post-punk sound of the early-mid 1980s. Obviously, the post-punk thing has been having a bit of a rennaisance in recent years, with peddlers of lack-lustre tedium such as Idles and Fontaines DC collecting undeserved accolades every time a dribble of tepid arse-mucus slips out of their collective backsides. However, in counterpoint to this, we have bands such as High Vis, Chain Cult and Bleakness doing a proper job of modernising the sound.

What you can expect from this album from The Inklings is some kind of midpoint between The Stranglers, Talking Heads, The Cure, and Thin fuckin’ Lizzy. Whilst it’s an undoubtedly vintage mix, it’s put together really competently and sounds really strong. Highlights for me are Candlelight, Take it From Me and Who They Gonna Make You Blame Tonight, with special mention to album closers Just the Beginning and The Day Everybody Dies.

You can hear the previous four albums worth of material on The Inklings bandcamp page

You can catch the Inklings live, in support of The Steve Ignorant Band at The Georgian Theatre in Stockton-on-Tees on Friday 1st March 2024. Indeed, they’ve shared bills with some other big names from back in’t’day already…

Find out more or purchase the physical CD on the Inklings Facebook page. The album is streaming on all the usual platforms.

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