Tuesday, 6 September 2011
EP Review: Four Weeks Inbetween - Chasing Wasted Time
It's a Friday night at The Joiners, Southampton's premier small rock venue, and hoards of loyal teenage supporters are kitted out with the latest t-shirt from the pop-punk wonderkids Four Weeks Inbetween, emblazoned with their slogan 'You Hide Behind Your Tainted Smile'. They are eagerly awaiting the band's headline set at their EP launch show, and all the sweat and shoving that goes with it. The band had a great crowd for a local show that stuck around for the entire set and were eager for more. Even more impressive was that, the band's vocalist, Luu McGonagle, had them in the palm of her hand. If she said jump, they jumped. If she said singalong, they knew all the words. But it wasn't cringey like it could have been, far from it; it was admirable. Friends joined in for signature tracks, either on the floor or by crashing the stage and there was a lot of energy and fun in the room. These guys look the part, sound the part and most importantly, act the part, and I wish them all the luck in the world for the future.
And now onto the EP; Chasing Wasted Time. Physically it's a very professional product, in plastic case with printed CD, great artwork, and a small booklet which features photos of the band and lyrics for their two singles. But I know you're much more interested in the audio rather than the visual...
Track 1/Sit Tight/ An explosive opener to the CD with strong vocals from the outset shared between lead and backing. The guitar is afforded a sudden break showcasing imaginative writing before the really strong chorus drops which has a great vocal hook. The rhythm section is steady and pulsating throughout; a reliable engine driving this energetic track. The breakdown gradually builds to a strong section before the last chorus, led by lead solo vocals, which works really well. The culmination of the song is a huge final push from all members of the band before a very sudden cut; I wasn't sure it worked first-time around but when I re-listened it was quite a brave thing to do and does, in fact, work and work well. A great opener to the EP.
Track 2/Chinos/ The first of the band's singles from the EP features prominently, and is a great throw-back to fast and fun pop-punk bands ranging from Blink 182 to Avril Lavigne; the lyrics smack of teenage-heartache whilst the music reveals no let-up and drives along, pulled furiously by the crotchet snare strokes which are as relentless as the song itself. The breakdown section again showcases some great lead-guitar work before it bows out to allow the lead vocals to lead into the final chorus and a great tapping-guitar solo, mixes of half and double-time rhythms, huge cymbals, frantic bass lines and anything else they could think to throw into the mix. Huge, and another great pop-punk song worthy of it's single-status.
Track 3/Lost/ Discerning, winding guitar leads us into the mid-way point of the CD eventually making way for steady chugging, palm-muted guitars and dual-layered lead vocals. The chorus is equally as strong as its EP-counterparts and musically shows a great awareness of writing for the genre. The lead guitar definitely leads this track though, returning to its hook before the second verse; it's setting up for one hell of a solo. The breakdown is very much led by the vocals, with a great heavy beatdown section which unfortunately doesn't lead to the blistering guitar solo I expected which is the only thing the track is missing. The vocals bring the song home and it ends as it begins with the lead guitar line, although personally I'd have preferred it if the lingering note hadn't been resolved, creating a feeling of unease with the listener but this is a minor, and most importantly, personal opinion.
Track 4/Alaska/ A great and strong-sounding chord progression accompanied by huge drums provide a great intro, as the track drops dynamically in the first verse and progressively builds from there before it reaches the same energy apparent in the intro in the great sounding chorus. The band have defiintely honed their sound, tipping their hats to tried and tested writing techniques of pop-punk greats and pull it off really well. I love the breakdown sections with the held-back dual-vocals shared between the lead and backing before they become a little more desperate and push a little more as the music progresses further into a slick outro.
Track 5/Make Do, With You/ I've sung the praises of this track before, very much the leading song on the EP which not only stands out coming from my speakers, but holds it own in a live setting too with a great singalong chorus. This was proven by the droves of loyal supporters at the EP launch show as they sung 'I've got so much left to say, why won't you tell me anyway' at the tops of their voices. Back to the EP and a hi-fi guitar sound introduces arguably the band's strongest song. We're sucked out of the vortex and released among the huge full-band sound as the verse gathers speed (not literally, the drummer is holding down the groove and doing a great job!) before the chorus explodes onto the scene complete with well-supportive backing vocals and great vocal melodies. The obvious hook of the track makes up the breakdown section; they conflict slightly when the lead vocals come back in briefly but this might be more a case of levels in the mix rather than the actual idea. The band tease at an ending before we're dragged back around again one more time. The drum outro I feel could have been longer layered with loads of reverb to give it a huge sound but it's a cool idea.
Track 6/Chinos/ It's been a relentless ride with the Four Weeks Inbetween crew and much-needed rest is sought in the acoustic version of an earlier-featured track which is a great move. It really allows the lead vocals to showcase themselves in among so much more space and sheds the entire song in a whole new light. It works equally well as an acoustic ballad and I'm glad they included it at the end to round-off a really professional-sounding EP. They work around the guitar solo section well with a much calmer offering and I love that they revisit this at the end, leaving a really positive final thought with the listener. In all, a really strong sounding CD that I hope paves more of a path for this band who are well on their way to making a name for themselves as long as the pop-punk genre remains strong for a little bit longer, providing a leap-pad for them and their infectious tracks.
For more info, be sure to visit the band's website and keep up to date with them on Facebook.