The Welsh quartet finds themselves stuck between rock grit and pop melody.
Raziq Rauf 2010
Given their similarities to the likes of Attack! Attack!, Kids in Glass Houses and long-standing acts Funeral for a Friend and Lostprophets, it’s hardly astonishing that the punk influences and pop mannerisms that Straight Lines stir together come from south Wales. Cue: an off-the-shelf comment about how there absolutely must be something in the leek soup / rarebit they’re serving up across the border.
Accepted, this comment may appear slightly flippant, but it’s a curious phenomenon to hear several bands from the same region exhibiting so many sound-alike elements – for all the personalised deviations (and varying levels of accomplishment), the roots remain remarkably homogenised. In the days before the increased accessibility of the internet, scenes could spring to incorporate a variety of outfits exploring complementary material; but nowadays it’s unusual for an area to spawn a succession of what are essentially copies of copies.
Straight Lines, however, do appear to arrive equipped with just enough to potentially differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack, one day. The Ballad of Peter Devine, for instance, is anthemic and rousing to the end; To Be Honest and Antics have enough solidity to them to warrant a sing-along to their strong choruses; and juddering opening track, Versus the Allegiance, features angular riffs that melt beautifully into a call-to-arms chorus.
Just from these examples it should be clear that the quartet has quality songwriting enough about them to warrant closer attention, but there is also the case that of the dozen tracks on offer, these are the clear standouts. The ballads have a little too much volume and the upbeat numbers never quite run at full pelt. As a result, there is never a massive variation in tempo or style and over 50 minutes the consistently radio-friendly sound can become a little tiresome.
Straight Lines walk that fine line where there’s not quite enough bite to sound like the aggressive hardcore bands that have influenced them, but nor is there quite enough out-and-out melody to sound sweet enough for a traditional pop crowd. Critics can point towards the fact they do neither perfectly, but celebrators can say, with some conviction, that Persistence in This Game is a solid debut from a band that has the potential to straddle both sides of the musical divide.