A cracking debut from a rightly rising British band with real crossover appeal.
Alistair Lawrence 2012-03-19
A band with genuine crossover appeal in an age where the internet has blurred the lines between genres like never before, Leamington Spa outfit Sharks embrace their love of classic punk rock and indie music in equal measure. "We’re the overestimated underdogs / What you await from us now you can’t get / From yourself" says opening track ‘Til the Wonders Rise, a curious indication of how the band perceives itself.
As it stands, they have an extensive supply of memorable melodies and memorable hooks. It’s no coincidence that this is an act that appeals to bands at opposite ends of the punk rock spectrum such as Gallows and The Gaslight Anthem to the point where they secured support slots with both during their infancy. Fast-forward a couple of years and EPs later and No Gods is a significant statement of intent. Despite its nihilistic title, it’s an album that brims with vitality and could well be Sharks’ ticket to the big leagues.
Crucial to the band’s appeal is the lyrical nous of its prodigiously talented 21-year-old frontman James Mattock. Where his heartfelt emotion may still occasionally get the better of a melody in a live environment, here his delivery is perfect. The wistful, looking-back nature of Able Moving Hearts might jar from one so young were it not delivered with guts and a hook to back it up. A few tracks later, Turn to You could be the perfect slow-dance ballad at a 1950s graduation ball, proving without a doubt that this is a band wise beyond its years and its members truly students of their craft.
Patient Spider is the album’s high point, a tale of how the narrator empathises with an eight-legged intruder into his life which resonates with larger themes of life, loss and dependency. Granted, its brilliance and contagious hook undercuts some of the more familiar phrasing that drives many of the album’s other songs, but it would be churlish to criticise the band for writing one song that is essential listening.
On this evidence, Sharks should be encouraged to follow their urges, which yearn for and deliver brutal honesty. A cracking debut album.