Funeral For A Friend - Chapter And Verse

Artist: Funeral For A Friend
Title: Chapter And Verse

Released: 19th January 2015

Originally Reviewed For The Punk Archive

Funeral For A Friend started their career in style with 2003’s genre defining Casually Dressed and Deep In Conversation. It’s been voted a modern day classic and is generally regarded to be one of the most important Post Hardcore/Emo albums of its generation. It was followed by 2005’s Hours, which stepped the song writing up a notch and proved that Casually Dressed was far from a fluke.

Since then FFAF have lunged in and out of melodically accessible territory, presumably informed by a rolling line up of musicians, until 2013’s Conduit jerked the Welsh five piece into a less apologetic, more abrasive direction. It would seem that this was something of a new mission statement, because whatever your opinion of its content, Chapter And Verse is the heaviest FFAF record yet.

Opener Stand By Me For The Millionth Time makes no bones about what lies in store for the album’s 39mins. Matthew Davies-Kreye’s half screamed half sung vocals sound raw and intense, intentionally under produced and dripping with angst. The track hits its stride with some heavily distorted, open guitars and surprisingly metal, double bass pedal heavy drumming.

Weather it is a result of Matt’s raw, aggressive vocals or Pat Lundy’s frantic, fill heavy percussion, there seems to be an old school, hard punk undercurrent to this record. This is particularly evident in the likes of After All These Years… Like A Lightbulb Going Off In My Head, Modern Excuse Of A Man and Donny, coincidently three of the best songs on here.

In all honesty, I feel like there are some less than excellent moments too. You Should Be Ashamed Of Yourself is both musically and lyrically immature, Brother (the record’s lone acoustic track) seems forced and out of place and Inequality is, at best, unremarkable (and at worst rather disjointed exercise in letting everyone play whatever the hell they like). The truth is that Chapter And Verse flows pretty well, but occasionally that’s because it blends into itself.

That said, it is rough-around-the-edges in a positive way. The production is low key, which really lets its stronger moments breath: the epic, open outro of After All These Years…, the wall of sound that is the last third of 1% and the heavy-as-fuck “secret track” really betray the fun these guys seem to be having with their new sound.

Since splitting from major label life some time ago I entirely respect the direction that Funereal For A Friend have decided to take. They appear to be continuing their musical journey in whichever direction they want, maturing and evolving as a band in the process. Their fan-base remains faithful with good reason - each FFAF album manages to have its own creative stamp whilst maintaining the key elements that give a band its identity. In this respect Chapter And Verse is no different. Some will love it, some perhaps wont, personally I’m somewhere in-between. Either way, to still be dividing opinion after nearly 15 years is definitely impressive.


Patrons – The Momentary Effect Of Sunlight

Artist: Patrons
Title: The Momentary Effect Of Sunlight
Released: 13th March 2015

Originally Reviewed For The Punk Archive


On paper, Patrons do it for me. Sold, rhythmic and melodic post-hardcore blended from generally non-standard song structures and unpretentious guitar lines? I’m in. In practice, however, I’m not convinced that these guys have totally hit their stride yet.

The Momentary Effect Of Sunlight opens with Roots, a decent song that commands interest early with some ominously quiet Mogwai influenced dual guitar work and introspective lyrics. It drops into three minutes of faintly proggy, palatable rock that tries too hard for complexity and looses momentum in the process. It blends cleverly into Circus, which goes some way to addressing the momentum issue and ends with a huge riff that could kill a moose at 50 yards. Third up is the rather average Old Rain, which has some interesting chords, a decent riff and not much else. It does, however, highlight the overall issue – there’s nothing wrong with this EP, it’s just uninspiring.

The final track, Blood Symphony, seems no different to the rest of the EP at first. However, from the two minute mark things pick up with a strong chorus and at three minutes Patrons add a hint of Post Rock to their range. The track drops down to nothing, switches time signature and channels This Will Destroy You as it builds into an epic outro. It finally feel exciting and hypnotic, making it clear that this UK four-piece have some real potential.

The Momentary Effect Of Sunlight may not be a master-piece, but it only Patrons second release. Most bands start off as a pale imitation of what they later become, so with a little faith and lots more song writing who knows where these guys could be.



Imperial Leisure – Razzle Dazzle

Artist: Imperial Leisure
Title: Razzle Dazzle
Released: 17th November 2014

Originally Reviewed for The Punk Archive

Imperial Leisure are not new to this Ska-Punk/AltSka game. They have been whipping crowds into a creamy mess and releasing music for over 15 years now, and I’m beginning to see why they have lasted.

First of all, their new EP - Razzle Dazzle - is tight. Very, very tight. They may have been together for longer than most marriages, but it still takes skill to jump between loud, quiet, half and double time as flawlessly as they do. I haven’t seen them live yet (although based on this I’d like to), but the production on this release is lo-fi and understated enough for me to be pretty sure that it mirrors exactly what they sound like on stage.

The EP kicks off at 100mph and stays there for its full 14mins, barely leaving anyone space to draw breath. Even in the more chilled (relatively speaking) breakdowns of Razzle Dazzle and Nasty Boy, not a sliver of momentum is sacrificed.

There are some interesting musical textures thrown in too: the legato trumpet solo in Razzle Dazzle and the (unusually) tasteful synth moments in Festival and Lucky People for example. This is all over the top of a rough-around-the-edges mix of Ska, Punk, Metal and Rap that leans on some chunky, fuzzed out guitar riffs to create a surprisingly heavy sound.

You could argue that each song on this EP is a little too similar to the last. However, I can’t help feeling that Imperial Leisure are all about the energy, and with just four songs to play with keeping the energy high is totally the right move. What they have created may not be the most varied body of music, but it is solid, cohesive and really fucking fun.


Punk Goes Pop: Vol. 6

Type: Compilation Album
Released: 17th November 2014

Originally reviewed for The Punk Archive

I think it is fair to say that, secretly, all us tough guys and girls with our tattoos and piercings, worthy record collections and disregard for the mainstream want to be able to listen to good pop hooks sometimes. I mean, I like Taylor Swift because she’s written some great pop songs and because fuck you, I’m an adult and I don’t care what you think. Except clearly I do care what you think, and what’s more, I’m not the only one that feels this way. I suppose that that is why the Punk Goes Pop franchise works.

If you haven’t heard of it before, Punk Goes Pop are a series of tongue in cheek compilation albums comprising of various guitar bands reworking famous pop tracks into rock/metal genres. Since its creation by Fearless Records in 2002 the PGP franchise has been pretty successful, probably because it allows us to listen to those guilty pleasers we all have without fear of being caught.

The first five volumes of PGP have resulted in some great stuff and some throwaway garbage. Everyone from Michael Jackson, Coldplay, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry have been covered by the likes of Chiodos, A Day To Remember, Tonight Alive and Thrice. Vol. 6 follows exactly the same formula as the last five (which is fair enough really) and whilst that formula is entirely predictable, if you are up for a laugh it delivers just exactly what you are looking for.

For me, there are a couple of standout moments. August Burns Red supply a brutal rendition of Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball that is as heavy as it is silly. Crown The Empire turn Ellie Goulding’s Burn into a legitimately decent metalcore track (if such a thing exists) and We Came As Romans offer a chunky melodic cover of I Knew You Were Trouble by the mighty Taylor Swift.

The album’s crowning moment of glory, however, is the joint submission from Upon A Burning Body and Ice T (no, seriously). They cover the trap anthem Turn Down For What, originally by DJ Snake feat. Lil Jon, and you sort of can’t help loving it. Ice T is in full angry rap mode as he helps to deliver a load of specially written lyrics about drinking, partying and generally being awesome. On top of that, Upon A Burning Body transform the song into a punishing metal track (complete with a cheeky musical Metalica reference) that I can quite see becoming a staple of rock club-nights everywhere.

Obviously this isn’t intended to be a cohesive body of music, it is meant to be dipped in and out of. You might find a couple of tracks to add to your party playlist or, better still, something that a fan of the original artist would be satisfyingly horrified by. Ignore the songs you don’t like, don’t take any of it too seriously and recognise that novelty metal albums don’t come around that often.


Post Season - Hollowed Out Hearts

Artist: Post Season
Title: Hollowed Out Hearts
Released: 25th October 2014

Originally Reviewed for The Punk Archive

For a little while now it has felt like pop-punk has been taking itself too seriously. It has moved away from its foul-mouth, dick humour and DIY origins into being the younger, less cool brother of Alt-Rock and Metalcore. It has started to resemble an emotionally sensitive kid with a fringe, a book of bad poetry and a lip ring. It is synonymous with emo. It is Pete Wentz, basically.

But here is a fun fact: I had a fringe, I had a book of dreadful poetry and I still have a lip ring. I like my pop-punk and, with that in mind, I have to say that Hollowed Out Hearts by Post Season is a solid EP, despite the lack of dick jokes.

Frankly, it doesn't start all that strong. Opening number No Brains, No Headache feels like a B-side or forgettable album filler. It is fast paced pop-punk by numbers that is equal parts Hit The Lights and The Starting Line, but with none of the key selling points of either.

It is followed by the title track of the EP which, it is fair to say, steps things up a notch. It's a good example of the modern day, Kerrang! Radio friendly rock that hits its pace quickly and stays there, consistently throwing out catchy, bouncy melancholy. A classic palm muted breakdown bursts into a confident, faintly post-rock half time ending that left me wondering favourably about its live potential. It's not quite the song writing excellence of such genre classics as All Time Low's Dear Maria, Count Me In, but it isn't too far off.

The rest of the EP follows much the same route. My Bad is more of an interlude than a song, just one minute, six seconds of acoustic guitar and distant crashy drums that lead neatly into penultimate track Picture Frame Eyes. Again, this is a well shaped, angsty slice of anthemic rock-pop with subtle guitar lines and a rewardingly chunky chorus. The final track, It's All Part Of It, is another fast, gang-vocal-and-mosh kind of affair with puberty-induced reflective lyrics and, overall, it's hard not to enjoy (assuming you are into that kind of thing).

I can't pretend that I didn't have fun with this EP, and if you like The Starting Line, Hit The Lights and Fall Out Boy then it's fair to say that you will probably get something out of it too. I should say, however, that originality isn't something that Post Season can rightfully be accused of. There is unquestionably the spark of good songwriting here, they've hit the genre on the head and I know that I would have been into this when I was 16. But that was nearly ten years ago now and it might have been nice to see a little musical progression. That said, I suppose pop-punk works for a reason: and if this EP appeals to a new generation of fans that haven't heard it one too many times already, then fair enough I suppose.


Owls By Nature - The Forgotten And The Brave

Artist: Owls By Nature
Title: The Forgotten And The Brave
Released: 17th November 2014

Originally reviewed for The Punk Archive

It seems natural to start a review of Owls By Nature by drawing some favourable comparisons with the likes of Counting Crows, Bruce Springsteen and The Gaslight Anthem. The Forgotten And The Brave, their third album to date, is steeped with the same small town, country rock and story telling that makes such artists great, and there is no question that Owls By Nature are from the same lineage. Their place in this genre is well earned though.

Immediately it is obvious how well crafted this album is: no guitar line or harmony is remotely gratuitous, no unnecessary weight is laid on a sub-par lyric (I'm looking at you Gaslight Anthem) and nothing feels like filler or throwaway material. In fact it all leaves a hell of an impression.

As the record unravels it becomes increasingly clear that these are real musicians, as comfortable with acoustic instruments as they are behind the forgiving volume of electric ones. You don't get to be able to write songs like this by just looking the part, so although this is an easy album to enjoy on first listen, it definitely favours substance over style. And whilst you would be forgiven thinking that its immediate accessibility implies a lack of overall depth, don't be fooled: it is accessible because the arrangements are balanced and restrained, because the lyrics are universal and because the song writing is classier than a top hat and cane. Besides, Ian McIntosh's vocals have a sort of shaky venerability that, whilst I personally love, I suppose could be seen as something of an acquired taste. Sometimes the lyrics are a little unclear, which is a shame, but musically the songs are so instantly rewarding that this occasional lack of diction somehow adds to the record's depth and I suspect I will keep discovering lyrics I connect with on each listen.

Brothers, the opener, is an upbeat, bouncy guitar driven rock track whose bluegrass influenced lead guitar licks and uplifting feel act as a sort of mission statement for the rest of the record. It is followed by Little Birds in which we get our first clear glimpse the album's deliciously distorted and understated organ work. 

It is the third track Darkness, however, that is the first clear crowd pleaser. Not a bar is wasted as the vocal hooks and subtle harmonies, washy organ lines and twangy picked guitar parts are layered over an old school, good times stamp'n'clap rock song. There is a beautiful sincerity that comes across melodically as the guitars and drums really dig into the big ringing chords of the chorus and bridge and, before you know it, three and a half minutes have passed. I know I've already made this point but...this is quality song writing. 

The record then shifts a gear or two into the acoustic guitar led, reflective Oh Alberta. This melancholic and pretty country song (complete with pedal steel guitar) paints a picture of a sad family with problems a-plenty:


“Oh my father took an axe into his hand,

He could cut a tree but he could not make himself into a man.”


This kind of Nashville nostalgia could easily be the downfall of a lesser band, but in reality it is these quieter moments that take The Forgotten And The Brave from being a good album to a great one. 

Frankly, there isn't a bad song on this record. Run has a bottom lip bitingingly good half time chorus, gritty guitar tones and gloriously Springsteen subject matter of escape (“I'm waiting for my next chance to run”). Would, a quiet, heartfelt track that shines a spotlight on some lovely vocal harmonies puts me in mind of I Won't Back Down by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers (though far more rootsey) and Back Right Down leans into its chilled out groove and guitar solo: a lovely way to close out the album.

Wringley Field, however, is not just my favourite song on the album, but one of my favourite songs of this year. It is a genuinely beautiful traveling song that paints a rainy picture and leads you into its fragile world. Its lyrics are effortless, poignant and scan as if Paul Simon had written them:


"And on the long drive home we looked up how to please a woman

And we stayed awake to it being read aloud. 

And it’s all we could think of before the border we tried crossing

A strange strip of land filled with drug sniffing hounds. 

And all the while this road it seemed foreign

And all the while I was thinking just of you"


It slowly builds before dropping to a gorgeous four part vocal harmony that re-ignites into an almost gospel-esque repetition of "I’m not afraid, I’m not afraid, I’m not going to bend to the will of the things you say". It is utterly beautiful, affirming and uplifting in equal measures.

You know it is a good record when, after the first couple of songs all you can think about is which of your friends you should play it to first. That said, I can quite see that it isn't for everyone. The production is perhaps a little smooth in places and one or two of the songs are lacking the edge and bite that you might want from a bunch of tattooed guys with guitars, but I'm nit picking. This is a great album: really enjoyable, highly skilful and with some genuinely outstanding moments that I am already looking forward to revisiting.


Misgivings - Delete History

Artist: Misgivings
Title: Delete History
Released: 3rd November 2014

Originally reviewed for The Punk Archive

Well, this is another punk rock EP. I mean, let's not beat around the bush here, Rise Against put out their first album in 2001 and Anti-Flag did the same way back in 1996. God knows neither of those bands invented a genre, but they were at least part of a kind of punk revival scene that gave rise to some excellent music, some seminal albums and some of the sweatiest gigs of all time. Delete History, the debut EP by Portsmouth punk merchants Misgivings, isn't just influenced by this period of punk revival, it is a grainy photo copy of it, repackaged for the millionth time and released for potential global indifference.

To be honest, my issue with this EP is that it just doesn't jump out at you. The song writing is passable but nothing special, the guitars are washed in a rather nondescript distortion that tends to loose definition in the overall noise and, after a fist full of listens, I can pick neither my favourite nor my least favourite song. I would like to reference some stand out moments, some notable performances or memorable lyrics, but sadly nothing really springs to mind. To be honest, it's just not very exciting. 

There are two sides to every argument though, and I feel like putting this EP down for its lack of originality would be missing the point a bit. I suspect that Misgivings are a band that shouldn't be entirely judged until they have been seen live. Their press release tells of their formation in a Hamburg squat, of beer fuelled gigs at toilet venues and of hangover-laden touring, and I'm prepared to bet that some of those shows were great fun to be at. The DIY nature of the recording (with its simplistic production and home-grown/honest sound) hints unsubtly at how Misgivings might come across live, which I'm sure was the intention. The vocals may not be great, but they are gravelly, boisterous and belted out with unquestionable resolve, and whilst this band might not be pushing the envelope musically they do sound tight. Moreover, for a début release it is at least fairly impressive to have a well realised sound spread across six songs and twenty-one minutes. There may not be any flashes of genius yet, but it is all perfectly listenable. There is unquestionably potential here, albeit in amongst the rather over hashed punk rock aggression.


Live: The Lawrence Arms

Line Up: The Lawrence Arms / Sam Russo
Where: Islington Academy
When: 15th October 2014

Originally Reviewed for The Punk Archive

It's been eight years since The Lawrence Arms released an album. It has also been a good few years since they last toured the UK, so as I walked into the venue I don't think I was alone in thinking that they had a little something to prove to everyone that has been waiting impatiently for their return.

Opening proceedings though was Sam Russo, a tattooed, bearded singer-songwriter that stood on stage with an acoustic guitar, a time-worn, croaky quiet voice and some very honest lyrics. He worked his way thought a fistful of gentle folk/country songs with twinges of blues that made for a particularly nice contrast at a gig that I had assumed would be entirely punk rock nostalgia. His album Storm is out now, and I'll definitely be having a listen.

As The Lawrence Arms took the stage (to the sound of Chers ‘98 dance classic Believe) there immediately seemed to be a lack of urgency in the room. There was a long pause as they plugged in, tuned up and got comfortable that was eventually broken by bassist Brendan Kelly announcing that "we came to rock your dicks and vaginas off". When they did eventually get started it was with The Devil’s Takin’ Names, which was followed byThe Slowest Drink… and for a few minutes it felt like they were out to remind us why they have a solid place in the punk rock history books. Kelly in particular seemed on good form, expending plenty of energy around the stage, lifting his bass high before throwing it down and screaming like a hellhound. Sadly some pretty substantial feedback issues fifteen minutes into the set (paired with an often unintelligible bass sound) seemed to squash his enthusiasm and things soon became far less exciting.

Unfortunately, after their initial burst of energy, this gig really did have the feel of a band going through the motions. Don't get me wrong, there were a few moshpit inspiring moments, a fair amount of fist pumping and some particularly nice juxtaposition from the quieter moments, but ultimately things fell a bit flat. I know that The Lawrence Arms have been around in one form or another since 1999, I know they are considered one of the most prolific punk bands out there and I know that this tour (and this album) has been long awaited by many. I understand that every room they play now will have forty or fifty die-hard fans who are going to love the gig whatever happens, so a little complacency on their part is, I suppose, understandable. Nonetheless, I can't help but feel a little disappointed.

To be fair, the front 15% of the crowd were entirely engaged throughout, but most of us were pretty static. That isn't to say it was a bad gig, with a back catalogue as rich and respected as The Lawrence Arms' it was never going to be a total wash out. It was, however, little more than a basic performance by a band that I would have thought would have a few more tricks up their sleeve by now.


The Honeydips - The Honeydips

Artist: The Honeydips
Title: The Honeydips
Released: 20th September 2014

Originally Reviewed for The Punk Archive

OK, so really I can do this review in one paragraph:

Do you like surf-punk? Do you like messy, rock'n'roll/punk influenced guitar music that seems native to a beach or a half-pipe? Do you want to feel like the band you're listening to would probably play your house party for two crates of beer and some petrol money? Cool, then you are going to have fun with this EP.

That's basically all I need to say about The Honeydips’ début EP. It's simple, it's loud, it isn't too heavy, it's really fun to listen to and it's a free download (not that it needs to be). It is very much of its genre too: musically it has the simplicity of a punk band, the recording is pretty basic (and at times pleasingly sloppy), the vocals are so low in the mix that the lyrics are almost totally lost and there is so much reverb that it might have been recorded in a cave. Really, none of that matters though. Actually, it all adds to the overall effect of an EP that deserves to be listened to as a whole. It's six songs blend into one scruffy, bittersweet and oddly hypnotic quarter-hour wash of sound that ends as soon as it begins every time I listen to it. Of course, it is never quite clear weather the Lo-Fi thing is deliberate or down to bad mixing, but who cares: a DIY approach and a don't-give-a-fuck attitude are what give this band credibility. Keep the recording shitty. Keep not giving a fuck.

If you're really so busy that you only have time for two songs, try Graduated and Stop Kissing MeGraduated has a rather sweet melancholic chorus and a nicely chilled out break down/guitar solo outro and Stop Kissing Me stands out for its repeated mantra of “I want to be swallowed by the sea / but I don’t want you drowning next to me” as it jumps energetically between half and double time.

I look forward to a second EP from these guys: I enjoyed this one a lot and I’d love to see some musical progression. Either way, check out The Honeydips. What they lack in substance they make up for in fun, and I mean that very much as a compliment.


Finch - Back To Oblivion

Artist: Finch
Title: Back To Oblivion
Released: 29th September 2014

Originally reviewed for The Punk Archive

I want to get something out of the way up front: I really like Finch. I was just the right age when their insanely well received 2002 début What It Is To Burn came out and I had it on repeat for weeks. I used to play its closing track Ender at open mic nights (badly). 2005's Say Hello To Sunshine was heavy as hell and divided opinion somewhat, but after two break ups and nearly ten years with no full length release I was entirely ready for Back To Oblivion to blow me away. I couldn't wait to be impressed, but sadly I'm not sure that I was.

My problem with this record is not that it is bad as such, actually there are a handful of pretty great moments, it's more that it feels rather uninspired as a whole. There is no question that it starts strong: the first three songs catch your attention like a right hook and for a moment it feels like Finch have never been away. But as the album plays out things get less urgent, less refined. Those first two albums seemed to have direction and purpose, but unfortunately Back To Oblivion just feels undercooked.

But let's start with those first three tracks:
Back To Oblivion, the opener and title track, shows the louder, cleaner, more melodic side of Finch. It's a nicely uplifting song that almost feels like a more mature, more optimistic take on their 2002 breakthrough single Letters To You and puts me in mind of Funeral For A Friend’s own 2007 album opener Into Oblivion (Reunion). This is followed by Anywhere But Here, a heavy, darkly melodic track with a chorus that will grow on you like ivy. The driving percussion and laid back guitars remind me of In Case Of Fire and its position on the record paves the way beautifully for my personal favourite: Further From The Few. This track throws down a metallic verse riff and a swaggering mosh pit starter of a chorus that gives way to a part-spoken, part-screamed bridge and a stupidly pleasing half time outro. Now, like many of us, I love screamed vocals, and I have to say that Nate Barcalow's scream sounds even better to me on this album than ever. Sadly it is a woefully underused tool on Back To Oblivion, just one way in which Finch seem to have abandoned their edgy, abrasive unpredictability in favour of some rather middle of the road decisions.

Aside from those first three songs, Two Guns To The Temple has a hunger that is lacking elsewhere on the record and a scream that could curdle milk, Inferium’s rather lovely and unexpected ‘Cello line certainly pricked my ears up and the 3/4 time signature of Tarot is welcome rhythmic variation. But sadly, that is pretty much where the magic ends for me. There are 12 songs here, at least eight of which I would be fine with never hearing again. Play Dead for instance, starts well enough but drops into chorus that Nickelback might have rejected. The Great Divide seems to be a perfectly acceptable rock track, but I have listened to it about 10 times and honestly I couldn't pick it out of a line up. Picasso Trigger has an over-worn Deftones-esque tonality that makes it immediately feel like it was overplayed on Scuzz about seven years ago and Us vs. Them almost gets it right with a chunky riff and a rather tasty bass line, but, like so much of this album, it loses out to unimaginative guitar lines, predictable structure and a noticeable lack of song writing weight to carry it through.

The trouble with Back To Oblivion is this: there are bits that I love and there are bits that I hate, but there is also a lot that is just… OK. Not dreadful, certainly not excellent, just average, and that is far more damaging. For me, Finch has always been a band that takes risks; that write slightly unhinged but beautifully honed guitar music. Unfortunately this is not the band that I found on Back To Oblivion. What I found was a band that is yet to prove this reunion was entirely a good idea.


Look Alive - Translucent

Artist: Look Alive
Title: Translucent
Released: 21st October 2014

Originally reviewed for The Punk Archives

It's easy to be disparaging of a genre that many would say has had its day. Disregarding punk rock (or pop-punk, or pop-rock or any of these similar, line-blurring genres) as simply “not quite old enough to be retro” is a little short sighted in my opinion. That said, I'm afraid Look Alive's new EP Translucent doesn't entirely help my argument.

Translucent is a confident and reasonably competent EP that has its feet firmly in the common ground between Jimmy Eat World, Rise Against and even H2O. Some noteworthy drum work and well placed melodic basslines form a backdrop for vocals that I suspect will divide opinion somewhat. It's raw and occasionally a little messy, but I respect the decision to keep this EP sounding almost live. So often rock bands fall into the bad habit of having their work overproduced, resulting in the soul of the music getting removed along with the reality of what five guys with guitars and a drum kit actually sound like. For the 14 minutes that this EP plays out I was reminded of why I love no-nonsense, balls-to-the-wall guitar bands. Tearing through your songs with no pretence or ambient between-track messing about is something that adds a sense of direction, and it's something that Look Alive do admirably.

However, from the moment opening track Putting The “I” In Isolation started, I was pretty confident what kind of listen I was in for. As opening tracks go, this one is frankly a little disposable, with forgettable verses and a chorus that doesn't quite land. There is such a limited amount of time to capture the imagination with an EP that you can't afford to open with what is essentially a fairly decent album track.

Unfortunately that is a theme that works its way into the rest of the EP, although Regrets Taste A Lot Like Hard Liquor does add a certain unexpected depth to the overall experience. Its slower tempo and channelling of Motion City Soundtrack in the verses (and even a touch of Death Cab For Cutie) certainly adds a dimension. It manages to stay just the right side of heartfelt rock, though only just.

The Bad Conversationalist, perhaps the most biting track of the four, and (not coincidently) my favourite, finishes the EP. It is arguably the most direct and musically interesting track on here, although its rather abrupt ending leaves the whole EP feeling somehow incomplete and its musical direction not fully realised.

I can fully imagine that Look Alive would make quite an impression on stage, and whilst this EP isn't their strongest musical output (check out their earlier track Inquisition) there is plenty to work with. Look Alive do what they do and they don't pretend to be what they are not. If you are a fan of New Found Glory, Small Brown Bike or Rise Against then Translucent is worth a listen, but don't expect fireworks. I can't deny that the more I listen to Translucent the more I like it, but maybe I'm just getting used to it.