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.