If you were to roll The Libertines, The Clash, Buzzcocks, Manic Street Preachers and The Gaslight Anthem into one, the chances are you’d land up with Narrow Margin. While the group only began releasing material in 2020, at least according to Spotify, they have are a name on everyone’s lips. Combining brash, bold and attention-grabbing lyricism with “in your face” melodies, the UK-based fivesome is more than a blip on the punk music scene. We have featured the group previously, but now we’re looking at more recent material. It is my pleasure to share with you their latest single ‘Urban Hell’.
While Narrow Margin retains their blunt punk style in the latest release, ‘Urban Hell’ seems to nod toward alternative rock as compared to the boisterous ‘Kids Don’t Dance’ (read our review here) or ‘Hey Mr Shareholder’ (read our review here). Once again, the combination of pounding drums and powerful guitars sends a jolt through your brain so no change there…as if we’d want a change. Yet, ‘Urban Hell’ has a more provocative and brooding quality in its evocative melody.
What makes Narrow Margin’s music stand out is not the brash huskiness of Ian Spiller’s vocals, the thudding of Jake Etches’ drums or Ben Etches’ lead guitar. All of these elements certainly stand out individually, but it is the harmonic melding of everything that gets you tapping your toe. Moreover, Narrow Margin is all about questioning the establishment, reflecting on reality and drawing out the raw honesty in life. It is in this way that ‘Urban Hell’ makes you stop and think on what is happening.
Touching on feelings of frustration and angst, ‘Urban Hell’ exposes the domination of corporations and its effect on the little guy. Spiller describes the track as “an expression of frustration at the system that traps working people into selling mind, body and soul to big business so a man in a suit can add another £1million to his bonus…people slog it out in poorly paid zero-hour jobs through the week just to meet basic living costs and maybe be able to watch the football at the weekend.” With his gruff voice, Spiller points out these factors in Narrow Margin’s controversial lyricism. Known as a group to captivate listeners with their roguish charm, ‘Urban Hell’ is a meaningful observation of current society bundled in a “poetic punk package”.
Side note: To enjoy Narrow Margin in all their glory, I suggest you check out their Live Set video. It is available on their YouTube channel.