You’d be excused for thinking U.K. Subs had abandoned their bold scheme to traverse the alphabet in sequential album titles. After all, although extant for 40 years they’ve left the charts untroubled for 35 of them and never crop up on those TV histories of punk.
With a skin-tight line-up (vocalist Charlie Harper, guitarist Jet, bassist Alvin Gibbs and drummer Jamie Oliver) that’s been stable for 11 years, the band have never sounded sharper.
Ziezo, the 26th and concluding instalment of their catalogue, captures the band on a late-career peak maintained since 2008’s Warhead EP. Punk might be considered dead elsewhere, but on Ziezo it’s never sounded more alive. When hitting the street-punk template they helped define (Polarization) they’re without peer. Elsewhere Sparrer aggression meets Dolls panache (Oligarchy), Iggy swagger intensifies Harper’s half-century of R&B harp experience (Disclosure), and there’s even a mood-enlivening skank of Bloodvessel ska for the Rancid contingent.
If Ziezo is the Subs’ swansong, then what a way to go, because this doesn’t sound like the end of anything.