‘Last Man on Earth’, the final song on the new, fifth album by The Spits, is a good example of the limits and strengths that come with genre pre-conceptions. Played at a high tempo, the vocals are as deep and dirty as the rest of the album, the drums frantic; it’s punk. But the chord structure is held by a distorted keyboard, and suddenly the song could be a fusion of punk and synthpop, at least in the sense that this keyboard gives the song a different timbre from the rest of the album.

But The Spits are punk, or you would say they were as such; they would be marketed as such. The rest of the tracks on the album are seemingly punk, and so ‘Last Man on Earth’ must be punk. Because of that, it might not reach some of the audiences that it could. And that’s a shame, because plenty of people would love the track: it’s punchy, catchy and nicely formed.

The Spits’s 5th untitled album release is, in fact, catchy all over. ‘All I Want’ and ‘Fed Up’ are perfectly placed, the first opening the album and the second suring it up close to half way through with short, snappy, Ramones-style punk. Teasingly short, they cut a few brief pop elements into what is generally a down ‘n’ dirty album, the sound greatly compressed, each song driven on by drums, guitars and bass marching together, the lightly mixed keyboards often dipping in and out of the tide quietly amongst things, as it does on ‘Fallout Beach’.

It really is a great album, from its frank lyrics (‘My Mess’ repeats “I wasted all my time with kissing you – if I only I could think of something new. It’s boring”) to the dissonant guitar solo of ‘I’m Scum’; in another twist of genre-fate, it is the sort of dissonance that in other styles of music might be considered carefully composed, but in punk it’s sometimes explained away as anarchic. And the fact that the album cover manages to riff on Delacroix’s painting Liberty Leading the People, placing a gimp mask on Lady Liberty and a UFO on top of her bayonet – and satirising Coldplay’s use of the painting for the cover of their album Viva la Vida in the process – is just another nice touch that rounds off a decent effort from the Seattle punkers.