After the high success of last year’s debut, ‘No Gods‘ , Sharks have been tearing around the world on headline tours, as well as those with the likes of Blink 182, Tribes and Pure Love, and amazingly, have still managed to find the time to get back into the studio and come up with a follow up, ‘Selfhood‘, all in a mere 13 months – no second album syndrome in sight.
The band’s – seemingly correct – decision to capture themselves at their raw, live show-selves by recording the majority of the album live, with minimal studio pretense, is obvious from the off, as opener ‘Selfhood’ immediately continues with the modern punk rock that ‘No Gods‘ started, but this time with more refined guitars, and just pure energy, and at barely 2 minutes, it’s a bona fide single from them already.
‘Your Bloody Wings‘ and ‘Portland‘, the first songs from the album to be played live, continue to highlight the outfit’s hook writing abilities. James Mattock’s melodic vocals and Andrew Bayliss’ thundering guitars work in complete harmony throughout them both, and though the sound doesn’t appear to have strayed to any distant realms so far, there’s development in the sense that they seem much stronger in their fusion of sound than on previous efforts – there’s even a few “la la la”‘s thrown in for good measure.
The alternative heavier punk sound of ‘Show Of Hands‘ hints a brief return to tracks such as ‘I Wont Taint‘ and ‘The More You Ask…‘. However, both have that stadium singalong refrain, a point at which Mattock’s vocals excel in their own unique right again, before bassist Carl Murrihy creates some solid backing for drummer Sam Lister to go wild – something the live recording appears to be useful for. ‘Gold‘ even suggests a hint of summer, complete with spoken word breakdowns, the entire album seems to carry an optimistic sound, much like the echoes of older tracks like ‘Patient Spider‘, and that’s something that appears to seperate Sharks from the rest of the punk rock wannabes, it’s got a soul that resonates from the stage to the studio without fault.
Lastly, a contrasting tone appears to be taken with ‘The Wild One‘. Again, Mattock’s vocals shine through, while the minimalistic guitars play a lullaby inducing riff, before the track ascends into a euphoric wall of noise and a stadium worthy atmosphere, then back to nothing but footsteps and a closing door – an album closer done by the book, and a brilliant one at that.
No musical breakthroughs occur on this album, Sharks haven’t suddenly gone techno, but they have taken all the great workings of ‘No Gods‘ – it’s by no means a part II – and utilised them effortlessly to create an incredible follow up, making stone set proof that change isn’t needed when you can make records this good.
The More You Ignore Them, The Closer They Get…
April 18, 2013
SHARKS – SELFHOOD (RISE RECORDS, 2013)
So, it’s been a while since I wrote about the band who probably began my online writing presence – remember our brief flirtation with blog.web.co.uk or something? That was awful. Even so, writing about early SHARKS demos and shows around the midlands informed a lot of what I would go on to make and do at the end of my school years. And so, it’s with fond rose tinted glasses that I look upon this, the second full length release from Leamington Spa’s best export since Satanism. Pertinent indeed perhaps that Aleister Crowley believed he had been entrusted with informing humanity that we were entering the Aeon of Horus – an era accompanied by self-realization and self-actualization. Both of these attributes can be found here by the bucket load, and SELFHOOD is a fantastic title for a not-so-difficult second album.
First full length, NO GODS, appeared around this time last year, after months and months of demo-ing, recording, touring, promoting etc etc. Paint a vulgar picture indeed. Did it perhaps suffer from this relentless process? Certainly the strength of song writing had carried over from early ep’s and singles, but in part the strain could be heard. A completely different approach here has revealed wildly different results (although not in the tone of the record I hastily add). Much like their US compatriots, Title Fight, the announcement for this second album came almost out of nowhere – little build up, just the right amount of press exposure, and a natural recording process (live on tape) has done the band a world of good. Here, the guitars sound warmer, the vocals rich in the mix, and the rhythm section keeps the whole thing rolling along with a razor pace. These 11 songs were purportedly written just before going in to the studio, which is testament to the skill of Andrew Bayliss and James Mattock (not forgetting you Sam and Carl), as the melodies in part are as good as anything they’ve ever done.
The title track bursts in with the style of Fallen On Deaf Ears, but segways via acoustic strumming in to the slower, more introspective Your Bloody Wings – and from then on, the growth that has taken place shines through. The influences here are less ’77 and more ’82, the harsh buzz of earlier work replaced with a warm jangle. Previously released online, “Portland” finds the band at their most upbeat, and what I assume will close side A of the physical release “The More You Ask Me, The Less I’m Sure” (Morrissey title in waiting) is fantastic – rockabilly guitars and all. Later in the record, things slow further – the excellent “Pale” sounds like the soundtrack of a lost David Lynch film, and album closer “My Wild One” is about as close to ballad material as the band have ever touched on – lullaby guitars coupled with “my body’s such an anchor, when it’s wasted not being beside ya” make for a different experience to that Sharks have been throwing around for the last few years, but it works. Second albums are notoriously tough – hey, even Moz had Kill Uncle – but if anything, they offer room for self-exploration, self-realization (thanks Crowley) and indeed, selfhood. One can only imagine that these songs will sound better still in the close confines of next months UK headline tour – head out to a date (there’s a bunch), pick up a record and enjoy good British guitar music once again, because when it’s this endearing, you’d be a sucker to miss it.
Words to your mother – LM.
From: Everything You Touch Turns To Gold http://lityerses.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/the-more-you-ignore-them-the-closer-they-get/