Attack! Attack! - The Latest Fashion track by track guide
Just out on the Hassle Records label - home to Alkaline Trio and Cancer Bats - is the second album from south Wales pop rock foursome Attack! Attack! which arrived in the office this morning.
They have stated explicitly that they wanted to move away from the 'pop punk' tag with its negative connotations of throw-away brevity and lack of serious intent. On first listen, The Latest Fashion is indeed a step or three towards a maturity that puts them sonically in the same ground as compatriots Kids In Glass Houses (with whom they share a producer in Romesh Dodangoda).
The Latest Fashion
It's not going to win any prizes for originality with its hook-laden pop songs of beefily-produced rock, with fringes swinging and axeman poses being struck. It's not designed to be original, however. It's designed to get on the stereos of the teenagers who like their rock to have a tune.
With backgrounds in south Wales bands such as Dopamine, Pete's Sake and Midasuno, Attack! Attack! are far from noobs to song construction. Lead track Everybody Knows, has a punchy, economical crunch to its melody. Riffs bounce along, Neil Starr's smooth vocals drive the verses and in (yes) pop-punk style his bandmates join in the fist-waving choruses.
There's even some woah-woahs in the song and it's clear that Attack! Attack! are an ambitious band in the hunt for proper chart success and a loyal live following. That way lucre lies, and like some of the best Welsh bands there's no façade of underground 'keeping it real' politics: this is unit-shifting rock.
No Excuses and My Shoes again have great big choruses that put them into space occupied by Lostprophets and Fall Out Boy. It's a three track barrage of effective, barnstorming pop-rockery.
Blood On My Hands marks a change of pace - again augmented by woah-woah-woahs cos if it ain't broke, don't fix it - that shows introspection both lyrically and melodically. It's a confident song that has elements of Foo Fighters to it.
Seen Me Lately returns to the fast-paced, tightly-wound sub-three-minute pop song, again with a big chorus hook but it's one of the weaker tracks here.
But then we get the title track which brings in a rougher sound. Starr's vocals are treated, scratched and scraped and there's a Lostprophets/Refused vibe to this definably punk track that has a loopy, multi-layered riff allied to a pounding rhythm. A welcome change of style here.
Nemesis is as dark as they get here, then Best Mistake takes Attack! Attack! into Kids In Glass Houses mode as it builds from a delicate acoustic intro into a soaring chorus. Neither would it be out of place on a Jimmy Eat World record.
We're Not The Enemy is a bruiser, all compressed stop-start riffs; then Not Afraid comes along. Despite being on an album packed full of hooks, it still manages to raise its hand and volunteer for single status and having being picked up by daytime Radio 1, its credentials are proven.
No Tomorrow ends the album on a slow-burning note, as is the fashion for modern rock. Lyrically- and musically-dark, it performs the 'epic' trick very well and Dodangoda ladles on the 'atmosphere' effect (there must be a button or a knob for that).
The Latest Fashion places Attack! Attack! in direct competition with some of the world's foremost pop rock/metal outfits. It sounds expensive; it's polished hard rock with a keen ear for killer hooks and with support from magazines, TV and radio it could be another in a long line of Welsh guitar-toting successes.
Feel free to comment! If you want to have your say, on this or any other BBC blog, you will need to sign in to your BBC iD account. If you don't have a BBC iD account, you can register here - it'll allow you to contribute to a range of BBC sites and services using a single login.