Noise Annoys: Derry’s Cherym deliver pop punk with substance on debut album Take It or Leave It

A photo of the original line-up of Cherym with Hannah, Nyree and Alannagh
The way they were: Hannah, Nyree and Alannagh. Picture: Liam Maxwell

Cherym - Take It or Leave It (album, Alcopop!)

DERRY pop punks Cherym release their debut record next week, Take It or Leave It, a title which is just begging for some nasty hack to call its bluff a la the Happy Mondays’ lacklustre fourth album, Yes Please!, which famously received a two word review in Melody Maker: “No thanks.”

Annoyingly for such bitter and twisted types, Take It or Leave It is a pretty damn moreish affair, provided you have a palette attuned to repeated blasts of sing-songy, deceptively sweet skate punk with an underlying tang of grungy, 90s alt-rock angst.

The latter elements balance out some of the record’s more in-your-face melodies, which might well be directly descended from the classic, snotty, playground refrain ‘neh-nah-neh-nah-neh-nah’ – arguably the core DNA of the entire punk pop genre.

Crucially, Take It Or Leave It is also imbued with an empowering, culturally relevant lyrical depth beneath its joyous, power chord fizz. Gift-wrapped in speaker-smashingly powerful production – think Blink 182, not Buzzcocks – courtesy of George Parks, the album is positively stuffed to bursting with belting, gender politics-informed/infused anthems, delivered with a confidence and brio which belies its ‘debut’ status.

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“We wanted this record to be our testimony as a band on topics like abortion rights in the north of Ireland, the fall of the Church, being trans, being gay,” explains Cherym drummer Alannagh of what was on the trio’s minds while working on the album.

“We were well prepared for the haters whenever we wrote it, hence the album title, but I also think it’s important to note that this is probably the most honest we have ever been in our music and as a band.”

A photo of Alannagh and Hannah of Derry pop punk band Cherym, seated on a couch
Drummer Alannagh and singer/guitarist Hannah. Picture: Sarah Ward

I used the word ‘trio’ there, but sadly bassist Nyree recently announced they were “stepping away” from Cherym, reducing the band to a duo of Alannagh and singer/guitarist Hannah, for the time-being at least.

Nyree can rest-up with their head held high, thanks to Take It or Leave It’s top drawer tuneage, which features a good few killer basslines, notably on attention-grabbing opener Alpha Beta Sigma, The Thing About Them’s slinky, prowling, super-catchy rocker and groovy mid-album insecurity anthem Am I Enough?

Of course, they’ve also got their band’s super-solid body of work to-date to be proud of, including recent single It’s Not Me, It’s You, a tasty chunk of bittersweet bubblegrunge which closes the album out air-punching, sing-along-demanding, pit-inciting manner.

While other previously-released Cherym classics like Kisses On My Cards and Listening To My Head are sadly absent – let’s hope new recruits find their way to the Hey Tori! EP – last year’s uber-banger Taking Up Sports is on there, along with their current single, the aforementioned Alpha Beta Sigma – a catchy/crunchy rainbow-booted kick to the groin of mediocre men everywhere.

“Alpha Beta Sigma is about how gender inequality permeates every single aspect of our society,” explains Alannagh.

“It is about the threat that men and patriarchy pose to women in this country. It is about the reclamation of our autonomy and our rights. It’s about freedom from fear and freedom to physical integrity, and overall it’s about having the freedom to just *be* a woman.”

That’s followed-up by quality newie The Thing About Them, on which Hannah sets the record straight about pronoun etiquette, delivering its central message in a spoken word manner just for extra clarity: “How many times do I have to say it, before you get it: it’s they/them”, they advise, repeating the pronouns in a chant-along-friendly manner before launching into an earworm chorus that is sure to chomp its way deep into your brain.

Mid-album moment If I Was a Man is maybe even catchier: “They wonder why we’re bringing all the noise / it’s cuz we’re always told that ‘boys will be boys’” spits Hannah on this turbocharged tale of gender stereotyping woes that’s surely earmarked as a future single.

The album cover for Cherym's Take It or Leave It
Take It or Leave It is released on February 16

The band go pure pop on Binary Star, a beautiful heartbreak ballad which starts off quiet and fragile before soaring into string-laden life mid-way through, then stage-dive back into the pit with the ‘don’t patronise me’ anthemics of AW TYSM (that’s “Aww, thank-you so much” for those over-30) and Do It Another Day’s catchy three-chord ode to the self-destructive joys of just letting it slide.

A raucous, righteous rocket/racket of a record, Take It or Leave It is a hugely infectious set of pogo-provoking, radio-friendly songs which sets out Cherym’s stall as a musical force for tolerance, equality and progressive change. It’s also excellent for dancing.

Find out for yourself tonight at the Nerve Centre in Derry, when Cherym launch the record in style with a hometown show featuring quality support from fellow Derry wan Reevah and Belfast-based Alcopop! labelmates/like-minded types Problem Patterns.

The poster for Cherym's album launch show at the Nerve Centre
The poster for tonight's album launch show at the Nerve Centre

Tickets for that are £12 via nervecentre.org and are probably on the verge of selling out as you’re reading these very words, while the album itself can and indeed should be pre-ordered immediately at ilovealcopop.co.uk prior to its February 16 release.

Cherym will also be winning hearts and minds as support to Enter Shikari on their upcoming Irish dates at The Academy in Dublin (March 21, 22) and The Limelight in Belfast (March 23), not to mention backing up chocolate and girls-obsessed forebears The Undertones on a jaunt through Germany this September.

Tickets for all those shows are available via ents24.com/uk/tour-dates/cherym.

NEW RELEASE RADAR: Fresh local product for your ears

Peng Weng - Auld Lad EP (Black Tragick)

THE enigmatic Peng Weng is back with a brand new EP of sonic wrong-think titled Auld Lad, featuring five fresh fillets of warped, nightmarish folk skronk abstraction for the bong water-drinking set

Could their queasy-yet-catchy sea shanty Spent On Things become a break-out hit? Probably not, given disturbing lyrical content like “in the evening sky above / there’s a constant staggered thud / and a puss coloured sun weeps onto a blanket of blood.”

Similarly, ‘teaser’ track Ballad of A Bad Wife combines slinky, fuzz-bass-powered Black Lodge vibes with layers of what sounds like the Mundies-addled warblings of a street drinker recorded on a Walkman with dying batteries.

Proper outsider music.

Neil Brogan - New Light EP (self-released)

THE ex-Sea Pinks indiepop peddler returns with a trio of top new tunes. Lead song Line Check finds Neil channelling his inner Champs for a groovy, original rock and roll-informed number about the challenges of post-work gigs.

Likewise, the short ‘n’ sweet Outside Chance - a ‘dont’ wait up’ ode to nocturnal activities - has a pleasingly retro, post-skiffle feel.

Which version of semi-titular track (In A) New Light, a jangly/noisy tale of failed friendship, do you prefer? I’m leaning towards the ‘Alternate Mix’, not least because it’s very slightly noisier and longer than the ‘standard’ version.

Your mileage may vary.

Colm Warren - Alright (single, self-released)

DERRY singer-songwriter and former The Twenty frontman Colm Warren has a new song out next week. Released on February 16, Alright is an emotional strings-enhanced ‘life goes on’ ballad, which comes with a video underlining its comforting central message: everything will be alright in the end.

You can find all your essential pre-save info via this link, colmwarren.lnk.to/Alright, and keep an eye on youtube.com/@colmwarrenmusic1642 for the video dropping any day now.

GIG RADAR: Essential new and upcoming shows for your diary

  • Jah Wobble: Metal Box Rebuilt in Dub – February 11, Court House, Bangor
  • Gama Bomb – February 16, Grand Social, Dublin / February 17, The Limelight 2, Belfast / February 18, Dolan’s, Limerick
The poster for Newry-bred thrashers' Gama Bomb's upcoming Irish tour
The poster for the Newry-bred thrashers' upcoming Irish tour
  • The Bonnevilles – February 9, Toales, Dundalk / February 16, Billy Byrne’s, Kilkenny/ February 17, Dalys, Omagh / February 23, Thomas House, Dublin / February 24, Diamond Rock Club, Ahoghill
  • Yard Act – March 19, Mandela Hall, Belfast / March 20, Vicar Street, Dublin
  • Makeshift Art Bar, Junk Drawer: Sundown Sessions – March 24, Court House, Bangor
  • Bill Ryder Jones - March 31, The Black Box, Belfast
  • Rory Nellis (full band show) – April 12, Oh Yeah, Belfast
  • Jane Weaver – May 12, Ulster Sports Club, Belfast
  • Putting The Fast In Belfast 6: Stiff Little Fingers, The Damned, The Skids, Problem Patterns – August 17, Custom House Square, Belfast
The poster for Stiff Little Fingers' Putting The Fast in Belfast 6 festival show at Custom House Square
Putting The Fast in Belfast 6
  • Therapy?: Troublegum 30 – October 31, Olympia, Dublin / November 2, Ulster Hall, Belfast