Shattered Dreams - Lessons Through Living
Owain Paciuszko 03/03/2011
Oxford punk-rockers have a certain 70s classic sound with the tempo turned up with a splash of Black Sabbath influence, though with Steph Branch's smoother hollering in place of a gruff growler. Opening track Unparalleled kind of goes through certain familiar motions with a simple, ragged riff, some good splashy drumming and the title howled repeatedly, unfortunately the production - especially some of the whizzy effects in the latter half of the track - do the song no favours, diluting the raw energy that should be bursting out the speaker.
The disjointed stabbing guitars of Round and Round are far more fun, giving a fevered awkward angular quality to the verses before the post-punk carousel choruses. It practically demands twitchy indie-kid dance moves and is a fine little spiky poppier number. Live and Learn has a latter-day Blondie-vibe, Steph pining 'I'm gonna die alone' over a more stately guitar line than the previous riff-heavy tracks. The track builds, repeating its chorus over and over and Steph's vocal is pushed almost to its limits, helping with the emotional drive of the song but not really making a connection with the listener beyond being a pretty decent piece of semi-rock-balladry.
Final track Song 109 is a pop-punky number that starts well but stumbles when it comes to the somewhat lifeless choruses, unfortunately Steph's vocal feels detached in the mix and the band sound disappointingly seperated from one another when they should be coming together in a raucous, glorious mess. In a way it summarises some of the problems that stunt this record, there's a certain cleanliness to a lot of how this EP sounds that seems at odds with how the band should sound. But, saying all of that, this is an ok little sparky pop-punk four track.