Wednesday, September 04, 2013
EP Review :: Only Shadows - Forest Fires
September 2 2013 (self-released)
Words: Dave Beech
Having only formed in early 2013, relatively little is known about Midlands-based power-pop quartet Only Shadows. Drawing on a variety of influences including Biffy Clyro and Frightened Rabbit, as well as American indie acts such as Manchester Orchestra, the band have been honing and perfecting their sound over several months, and now, after a line-up change, Only Shadows are set to releases their debut record, a four track EP entitled 'Forest Fires' which they hope will signify the start of something special for Nick Ashby and co.
With influences such as those listed above, you could be forgiven for thinking that the band are just another stadium rock outfit with a sound big enough to match their ambitions. That isn't the case though and indeed opener 'Many A Mountain' has more in common with contemporary pop-punk outfits rather than the angular math-rock of Biffy. That shouldn't deter one though, it's a solid track to open a début with, and suggests that the months spent sharpening their sound haven't been in vain.
Titular track 'Forest Fires' further exemplifies the band's talent and is a more melodic if not restrained affair when compared to that which it proceeds. Vocals and percussion dominate each verse, decorated by understated yet effective keys before an uplifting chorus catapults the track to unexpected and emphatic heights. The dynamics introduced here are doubtlessly something that will become synonymous with Only Shadows and the way in which the quiet and candid verses are expertly juxtaposed against hard-hitting choruses will appeal to fans of You Me At Six and other such pop-rock bands.
'Forest Fires' really is a record that's all about dynamics, and never are they exhibited and experimented with more than on final track 'Reason to Bleed'. Though it's the shortest of the four tracks featured, it also packs the most punch. Starting slow, the track soon becomes the abrasive and impactive conclusion that the rest of the record has hinted at. Dual guitars play off one another, with one providing the melody, the other the weight. It's a fine example of what the band are capable of and easily the strongest track featured across 'Forest Fires'.
Bands such as Only Shadows, at one point, were ten a penny as people sought to cash in on the sudden influx of British pop-rock bands that followed in the wake of acts such as the aforementioned You Me At Six. Thankfully though, these days it seems that Kerrang! have lost their appetite for melodic punk-pop, and the bands in that genre that still exist are finally worth sitting up and paying attention to. Only Shadows are one such band. While their music might not be breaking boundaries, it's only a matter of time before it's breaking hearts. Catchy and candid, emotive and energetic; this band are proof that British bands don't all have to sing with a colloquial accent or ape one of the late great indie acts in order to get noticed.