I suppose in broad terms you would (and I have!) file this album under ‘indie.’ But to simply dismiss this as such would be a gross disservice to the Yorkshire four-piece. You see, these guys don’t seem to cow-tow to convention and although there are slight similarities to others that have gone before them, VOLCANOES march to a different beat altogether from others that would claim to fill that particular genre.
My initial impression was that this is one of those mini-albums (six tracks, nineteen minutes) that seem to grow into itself. It opens well enough, but the tracks feel like they get stronger and more varied as the album progresses.
And it’s this variation that keeps it interesting. It’s done in quite a subtle manner, but is easily detectable. There are no ‘shock tactics’ and while the lyrics are often witty they are not totally outrageous. I wouldn’t go so far as to call the music ‘quirky,’ but it is different from any run-of-the mill ‘indie’ bands.
There are points (generally at the opening of several tracks, before the music fully kicks in) where the vocals remind me of Arctic Monkeys, but we’ll put that down to the geographical similarities between the bands. Third track ‘Little Feet,’ is perhaps the best example. However, this one builds into something altogether more dramatic than I’ve heard the Monkeys offer.
This particular track also serves to highlight the varied writing styles adopted. It’s actually a heartfelt song written by frontman Samson Bedford for his wife after their struggle with infertility.
Compare and contrast with ‘Beat Me To The Bull,’ with its staccato, machine-gun styled heavy guitar riffs – and lyrics about a ceramic bull found, and then sold to someone else, in an art shop!
Back to the opening track, however; ‘The Pageant’ is a nice, bouncy start and probably the most ‘conventional’ of the tracks on offer with great harmonies and dancing guitar lines atop a chugging bass. ‘Triceratops,’ then opens with some very familiar-sounding vocals over guitars redolent of the intro to a children’s TV programme! But as with all the others, it soon finds its own identity and develops into a chirpy little number. I have no idea what ‘Vexihop’ is about. I don’t even know what the word means – it’s not in my dictionary anyway. It is however possibly my favourite of the six – although this seems to change each time I play the album! It’s got a perky beat (yeah – I realise I’ve just used the words ‘chirpy’ and ‘perky’ in the same paragraph. You won’t get that in NME now, will you?!) It races along with little guitar solo lines (that do slightly remind me of some Pretty Girls Make Graves work) interspersing the body of the song.
Final track ‘The Atheist’ vies as my favourite. It’s got more of a plodding beat, with a bit of a darker feel and more spoken than sung vocal style. There’s a little bit of early ‘post-punk’ feel going on as the vocals turn a bit more expressive and almost shriekish towards the end – which is right up my personal street!
There’s definitely plenty here to attract listeners from a broad spectrum of personal preferences. It’s ‘conventional’ enough to attract daytime radio play, and yet ‘unique,’ enough to retain that bit of ‘exclusivity’ that pleases musical snobs …. like me, I suppose!
(Self- released as a digital download on 12th September 2011)
(8.5 / 10)