Pure Love Anthems Review

Released 2013.  

BBC Review

Former Gallows singer unleashes his inner arena-rock beast.

Ben Myers 2013

As frontman for Home Counties hardcore punk platoon Gallows, Frank Carter rarely left the stage satisfied unless he had accrued new injuries or fresh tattoos at the very least. A decimated venue and a riot: even better. But interviews suggested a troubled soul beneath the singer’s nihilist armour and he left Gallows in July 2011, jaded and dissatisfied with the genre.

Back to pursue a direction that is as bold as it is unexpected, Pure Love – even the name oozes positivity – is the sound of Carter and guitarist friend Jim Carroll (formerly of The Hope Conspiracy) taking a substantial musical and lyrical U-turn.

The duo’s debut LP, Anthems is less the sound of a band disgusted with the recession-era Grey Britain of Gallows’ 2009 second album and more of a beefy rock band rediscovering a joie de vivre for the music of their youth.

“I’m so sick of singing about hate / It’s never going to make a change,” Carter sings on Bury My Bones, the lead single whose power chords and air-punching chorus had online listeners initially suggesting that the band Pure Love are most influenced by is The Darkness.

But actually, on The Hits and Handsome Devil’s Club, it’s Manic Street Preachers and that band’s many classic rock influences that Pure Love most resemble. Their emotive sound is shot through with epic guitars and a monochromatic sense of rain-swept romance.

Riot Song, meanwhile, straddles that same line between provincial punk and grit rock across which bands like Big Country and New Model Army veered in the late 1980s. And it turns out Carter has a fair set of pipes on him.

For a debut album it’s accomplished stuff, though like the Manics before them Anthems is not without its stodgier moments, as on the mid-tempo Burning Love or album closer March of the Pilgrims, whose quasi-spiritual undertow obliquely recalls U2.

Thankfully, the chances of Carter donning wraparound shades and having The Pope on speed-dial are unlikely. Pure Love is an admirable swerve into new mainstream musical territories, and one deserving a suitably large audience.

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