With a stellar list of influences, and a hotly-anticipated E.P. completed, the band deliver a tantalising taste of a bright future.
Wake Up is available via
The E.P. Rise is available at
THE nature and subject of diversification in music today, is…
an ineffable sticking point, that is ever-relevant, and never resolved. There is less of an issue, when pertaining to established bands. Many are able to mobilise their ambitions and force, in all sorts of directions, without losing focus or credibility. It is almost a right of passage, that a band- once they have concentrated their intent and identity- dust themselves off, smile, and see what they can come up with next. For new acts, there is an inherent and genetic nervousness, that sees them instantly restricted. What with the sheer number of acts on the scene today, and the associative alacrity of critics, waiting to undermine and cut an act down to size, it is understandable. Unless you have a solid and memorable sound, right from the start of your career, then you have to be prepared to adopt flexibility. I recently reviewed Laura Marling; a young artist whom had an unflinching quality and ambition, right from the start. She is one of the best lyricists in the world, and, combined with a concentration and focused mandate that few contemporaries posses, it was hardly surprising that she has captivated critics and fans alike; right from day 1. She is a rare exception. It is especially true in the solo market, that there is too much much of a muchness. There is the depressing cliche: man/woman armed with acoustic/electric guitar; have a bland-not-too-bad voice; write songs about love/heartbreak/betrayal; repeat 10-11 times; touring-taxes-death. It is despairing, when you consider the comparative downfalls, to rebelling against complacency. It is admirable that musicians can write their own songs, etc; but unless you are Nick Drake/Marling/Bob Dylan, you’re hardly likely to capture hearts and minds, are you? I appreciate that music is fickle, and it is important to have a ‘sound’, but if that sound is an approximation of a whining boredom merchant, why bother?! This is where diversification comes into play. If you begin a career; not only pervading something intriguing and different, but are willing to supplement your core sound, with differing shades and tones, then you have an historic edge. It is 2013; we have witnessed Britpop, ’60s psychedelia, Beatle Mania, the birth of punk: so why not mix things up a bit? Bygone music is not merely a testament to days gone by: they are there to be inspired by, and to incorporate into songs; in order to excite and inspire fellow artists, and up-and-coming acts, alike.
This brings me- more succinctly than you’d imagine- to the feet of Audio Suspect, a band for whom this theory and lifestyle is sacrament. They remind me, in a way to The White Stripes. Jack White knew, as early as the debut White Stripes album, that it is was possible to mix big riffs and blues wonder, with acoustic numbers and tenderness; thus maximising the band’s appeal. It was White Blood Cells, where this ideology and ambition- in my mind- was struck sweetest. Containing only one weak track (This Protector), the 16-track masterpiece was awash with diversions, turns, genres and sounds; yet was honed and immensely tight (in spite of the lo-fi charm and 8-track home-recording process). There was Hotel Yorba’s charming narrative and sing-along smile; Fell in Love with a Girl’s atomic blast of youthful transgression; through to I Think I Smell a Rat’s snarling spit, and the under-appreciated jewel in the crown: I Can Learn. The 26-year-old White was acutely aware of how crucially and important it was to be restless, and spread his creative wings. It makes the ensuing albums, and subsequent regency of The White Stripes, not only more potent, but possible. If you are not talented enough, or intelligent enough to have a similar ambition and range, then you will be shot, buried and forgotten about forever. Quite right, too. Music is not for any yahoo or pub band, to merely ‘have a go’; it is there to foster and premiere new talent, to inspire and carry, a most prestigious torch. I have been in touch with Audio Suspect on and off, for a little while. A band whom know that creative and personal incommunicado is a risky stratagem. They have spent a great while craving a set of stunning tracks, and ensuring that their E.P. Rise, does full justice to their ambition and dedication. I have listened to the four tracks, and there is curiosity abound. In a musical Many Worlds Theory sense, there will be, somewhere an Audio Suspect, whom are still honing and second-guessing. In none of those universe’s is there an Audio Suspect, that are lacking ambition and intuit. I only mention The White Stripes, as there is a similar mobility between the tracks, and a comparatively sounding and different 1-2. The band are, Tomos, Sean, David and Rory, and hail from Wales. I was bemoaning- as recently as yesterday- the lack of new Welsh bands on the scene and on the tip of tongues, and suspect that the reasons for this, is a native meticulousness, when it comes to songwriting: making sure that whatever the public hears, is as a result of serious craft. The group been electrifying since January 2012, and have an impressive list of influence: Muse, Nirvana and Radiohead, count amongst them.
The opening notes, to the opening track Wake Up, are perhaps axiomatically stirring- and appropriately alarming. There is a semblance of White-esque blues rocketing within the guitar tones: there is the sound of De Stijl-period White Stripes, nestling astride a fighter jet. There are Grunge-era scratchings: think Nirvana-cum-eponymous Soundgarden; as well as modern-day influences, such as Foo Fighters and Biffy Clyro. It is the early stages of the intro, that invigorate, so. It is a fiery and bouncy intro; parts Why Can’t You Be Nicer To Me?; parts Origins’-era Muse. Audio Suspect have a keen early eye for detail, as well as impact. They manage to appropriate the quality of the aforementioned artists; only the key components are theirs, and theirs alone. When the drum rumbles, and collaborates, the track strides and is cock of the walk. There is attitude and authority, as well as a northern swagger the likes of Oasis and The Arctic Monkeys have consecrated. Few bands neglect the importance and purpose of the intro.; preferring to skip foreplay and dive right in. Before a vocal note is elicited, you are already hooked and energised. When Tomos sings, the sound is a causal link that meats out growled and ravaged cries, and a more restrained strum. It is difficult to think of other singers, when trying to think of resemblances: which is a pleasing and rare thing in itself. At times the words may be a little indecipherable, but it is the nature and manner of a lot of modern music, that the vocals are a little down in the mix, forced to compete too hard with the sound. In spite of the band being Welsh, there is little national remembrance in the vocals; there is more of Manchester and Liverpool, to my ear. Bits of Gallagher, Noel, and early Lennon are present. When the words: “Come with me/And set you free”, there is some of that Definitely Maybe anthemic force. Audio Suspect are able to parlay any influence into little corners of their landscape; and up front, in the mix inject personalities and tales that are fresh and revitalised. The chorus arrives on a levelled playing field; there is not a noticeable rise in energy or change in signature, too much.; instead it is more a continuation of the verses. This is quite a rarity; where most bands would modulate or wander, Audio Suspect keep the focus tighter, and create a more linear plot-line. Sean, David and Rory are capable of stealing the limelight, as they are able to weave patterns and sparks into the mix; the guitar work is particularly noteworthy. The way that the lyrics are repeated and slogans such as “Let your mind run free”, is a shrewd political mood. The band are aiming for memorability, and carefully choose words that will remain in your head, and are subsequently likely to be chorused from festival-goers, too. If you infuse a song with too many words, too few turns and an aimless simplicity, attention will be diffuse. Wake Up keeps its body mass lean and mean; its blood clean and it’s this rude health and vitality, that gives the song its keen edge. In the way that the middle eight/break strikes, two-thirds in, unveils a sound and structure that marries Britpop with modern indie/alternative rock. There is a fond evocation of times past, but a bedrock of the here and now; there are little passages of heavier metal edges, as well as 1995/6 Britpop sunshine. “I won’t break down” begins a final full-bloodied swing, that is accompanied by endeavouring percussion, guitar and bass. Overall the track is a cross between a mini-epic and anthem-in-waiting. It clocks in a little under 3:30, and is muscular and nebulised. Aside from occasional issues with vocal decipherability, the song is a fantastic start, to a brilliant E.P., which promises many different sides to a curious band.
2013 is a year, which started off a little bit slow, with regards to memorable music. The Spring months always seem to herald the arrival of refreshment. I am excited that I now have a Welsh band to mention in my daily (and sometimes bi-daily) reviews: so much of my attention has been focused farther north. In a country where fastidiousness and perfectionism, have in the past lead to rather mixed results with regards to music (how many great bands and acts from the last 10 years, have originated from here?), I hope that Audio Suspect are at the spearhead of a flying artillery of future Welsh talent. There is plenty of gorgeous country and fresh air to inspire the soul, as well as some great local bands, so I am sure I will be reviewing more Welsh talent, soon. Audio Suspect have taken their time, to get their rhymes and music, just as they should be- memorable and ambitious. It is circular to my original thesis: regarding range and complexity, that the E.P. from the band has so many different patterns and shifts. The group have nailed a sound and thematics that are particular to them, yet have not been remiss in strangulating and distilling their essence too much; they are aware of how important it is to explore and surprise. And for a new band, whom have numerous contemporaries (most of whom, who are less diverse):
THE next few years, will be very interesting and prosperous indeed.