When "Ain't No Life," the opening cut on the Beltones' first full-length album, Cheap Trinkets, comes bounding out of the speakers, it sounds like an exemplary slice of pop-punk -- until Bill McFadden's beefy rasp of a voice comes in and you realize these guys are actually channeling the sound of Brit punk circa 1977, proving once again that the Clash haven't stopped ruling the universe just yet. If you're searching for striking musical innovation, that's really not what the Beltones are about, but if you're looking for a solid dose of old-school-inspired punk, then Cheap Trinkets may be just your pint of lager. Bill McFadden and Bob Sessions crank their guitars with plenty of downstroke fury and just enough melody to keep you listening; Will Thomas and Mike Mutti hold down the rhythm with authority and muscle, and while McFadden's growling bellow doesn't have a lot of range, he packs more than enough dramatic impact to compensate. And the tunes are prime pogo material, especially the heartbroken booze-up "Set 'Em up Stevie," the rollicking "Better Than a Kick in the Head," and the skittering guitar lines of the title cut. (There's also a raved-up cover of Bob Marley's "Concrete Jungle" thrown in for good measure.) In short, if you're looking for some fresh punk blamalama to provide a fitting soundtrack for drinking beer and waking the neighbors, Cheap Trinkets will fill the bill quite nicely, thank you.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming