Prior to listening to ‘Underwaterouterspace,’ the follow-up to the acclaimed debut album, ‘Scatter The Crow,’ from London based ‘post grunge’ trio SLAVES TO GRAVITY, I viewed the video for ‘Silence Now,’ (see below.)
If I’m honest, it left me rather ambivalent. Or maybe even a little under whelmed. I couldn’t get past thinking about Manic Street Preachers for some reason. Whether it was the image, the poses or simply the music, I’m not quite sure. However, once implanted it was a difficult impression to shake. And that’s not a good impression as far as I’m concerned. So when the album arrived for review, I was kind of dreading it and busied myself thinking of polite ways to say that it just didn’t work for me.
Then I pressed the ‘play’ button ……. and opening track ‘Good Advice,’ raged from the speakers. Wow! This song has it all: big chunky and heavy riffs; searing guitar with driving bass-lines; pounding drums and vocals that have the power of Shinedown and others of that ilk. The chorus is hooky and catchy and will have you singing along, there’s no doubt. Overall, it’s punchy and direct – right in your face.
But alas! It would seem that the old adage about first impressions still holds. The rest of the album, for me at least, fails to deliver. It ALMOST does, but there’s something missing in many of the tracks. For instance, ‘Honesty,’ builds towards a big chorus, but it doesn’t quite reach the heights of the opening track in that the general ‘hook’ is not there.
Several other tracks like ‘She’s Got Big Plans,’ have a distinct Foo Fighters influence shining through, but they lack the punch and that little something to keep the song swirling in the listener’s head for the rest of the day.
Ironically, the one track that I do think sounds like a Manic Street Preachers song (a little) is the slower paced ‘Silence Now,’ – and it DOES carry that hook; that more memorable aspect. And the track that follows that one, ‘Youth Serrated,’ is interesting. This is completely different from all the other tracks on the album and so stands out as a result. The harmonica, banjo and slow, steady kick-drum beats give it the atmospheric feel of The Deep South.
It’s interesting to read an interview with guitarist / vocalist Tommy Gleeson in this month’s BIG CHEESE magazine (issue #133, May 2011) that working with a producer (Bob Marlette) for the first time;
“…really helped us achieve something different and inspiring. It allowed us to trust one another and trust our own ideas, having someone in the studio that was pushing us to try new things, to not rely on our influences too much. It shows on the album, I think.”
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a ‘bad’ album – far from it – and I agree that the band needs to move on from their debut offering, but I do think that had they given a bit more leaning to their ‘influences’ they may have ended up with a more generally memorable follow-up. It’s so frustrating ….. it’s ALMOST a great album, but just lacking that little extra ‘thing.’
(The special expanded package also contains a DVD that features four video tracks from the debut album ‘Scatter the Crow’ as well as ‘The Making Of’ each of those videos and two videos fro songs on this album – ‘Honesty’ and ‘Silence Now.’)
(Released through Steamhammer / SPV and available now – May 2011)