Hagglers Self Titled Debut LP Showcases Proper Boston Punk Rock


4.5 out of 5 stars

If you haven’t heard of Hagglers yet, don’t feel out of the loop. They are a new band consisting of former members of other Boston-area bands (The Pug Uglies, Blue Bloods). 

The trio consists of lead singer and guitarist Jimmy, Ted on bass and backup vocals and Kyle on drums. They play fast, and they play loud.

Their new album, titled Hagglers, is 8 songs of speed punk that will have you tapping your foot and bopping your head through its entirety.

“The Crux” starts the album off, and is a bit of a social reflection of America - guns, medication and religion. It thumps with a steady drum beat, and the refrain of, “This ain’t what we, what we signed up for…” makes it pretty clear that Hagglers believe that America has made a turn for the worse somewhere along the way.

“Get Ready” is a pretty deep song with very few lyrics to give clarity, but it seems that the song is about a friend who took/takes heroin and died or is on their way to dying a young death and the narrator (possibly autobiographical) is not going to celebrate their death and look back fondly on those days. It’s an interesting sentiment as many people will glorify rock musicians who overdose. This song suggests doing the opposite.

“It’s Close Enough” is a dark comedy song about the protagonist giving himself a lobotomy, and the song seems to suggest they didn’t do a very good job saying, “All my plans are foiled. It’s close enough.” 

“Sell Our Souls” is another song that talks about substance abuse and how it ties into being a musician that doesn’t get paid well enough to make a living, but they make just enough to buy drugs, alcohol and cigarettes to keep going.

“No One Else” is the next song on the album, and it gets pretty personal for Jimmy Burke as he mentions his friend talking him off a bridge when contemplating suicide. Whoever “SMC” is, they are a good friend, and it’s awesome that Burke is still here to sing about the experience instead of having ended things early.

“Roustabout” is a classic Boston punk song in the sense that it is all about going out to party and, if needed, get into a fight. It’s probably the most polished song on the album as well, in my opinion. The backing vocals and timing just seem a bit better and more practiced, but that may just be a product of the recording process in general.

“Saint” is probably the least clear lyrically of all the songs on the album, but if I had to guess, it is most likely about the fact that there are people who try to do better for themselves, and then there are others who just say that’s what they want, but in the end, most people die before achieving their dreams. The title and the subject matter don’t fully explain the story though. It’s still a hard-driving punk song throughout though.

“Strangler” is the last song on the album, and it is about the Boston Strangler, Al DeSalvo. The song is from his perspective as a stalker, and how the Strangler didn’t discriminate in age of his victims - “19 to 85 they don’t mean a thing to me.”

Hagglers look to have a lot of polish in their music for a debuting band, and that would certainly come from their time in other bands. Whether this band is going to be the full pursuit of all the band members or not will remain to be seen, but their sound is contagious and is great for parties (even if the subject matter is a bit dark for that setting). 

High marks for this album indeed.

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