Five Mile Island – Failed States

Five Mile Island Failed States

Sophomore album from Leeds-based quartet wears its early-Radiohead influence on its sleeve on opener Fall On Me, Matt’s guitar jangling with Pablo Honey-era angst, though Owen’s vocal is closer to a sombre, less theatrical Robert Smith. It’s a slinky, moody opener. It builds towards a nice wah-wah guitar rock finale, Owen sighing out the track’s title with exasperated resignation.

Monk sounds like The Cure covering The President Of The United States of America, if such a union can really be imagined, it’s a shuffling, swaying indie-ballad. Acoustic guitar and a electronic drum beat kick off Drive, a track that finds the group experimenting more with layered vocals and drifting away from the indie rock sound as if they’re attempting to compress Radiohead‘s career down, though, saying that, this track is a lighter, breezier tune than the revered Oxford group would usually attempt, its floating instrumentation a decent contrast to Owen’s suitably dour vocal.

Things go a little baggy on One Man Up, guitar stuttering like a DJ scratch over the limb-shaking The Music-esque lead riffage, though the track doesn’t move far from its repetitive routine, lacking either a comedown or a breakout. The Pavement-sounding Full Band Backing is better, its languid melodies moving with a pleasingly woozy momentum, like weary legs reaching the top of short hills and running giddily down the other side. It reaches a cheery pop peak before turning into a hazy anthemic refrain that bursts into a The Strokes-like finale.

It’s followed by the forgettable Put To Sleep, a so-so indie shuffle, that marries murmured vocals to a detached, whilst Scars finds them mixing indie-dance with post-rock choruses with varying effect, it has a nice slowdown around the three minute mark, this seems to be a band that works better the glummer they are, the initial mash-up of Happy Mondays meets Snow Patrol felt awkward and out-of-character, but the proggy conclusion is far more successful. So, it’s a shame that Win Win Win follows up this moment of goodwill with its lively but lifeless clatter, though Matt’s guitar on the verses is pretty fruity.

End Zone features some maudlin strings, but the mix is a little too fuzzy, any emotionality is lost in a swampy jumble of guitars and supper-club drumming, the choruses strive to build to an emotional peak but are disappointingly slurred and lacklustre. The squawky Judy is better, the guitars ranging from mewing to apocalyptic cacophony, Andy’s drums splashing with pleasingly tumultuous fury. Closing track Long Ride Home is another acoustic guitar driven tune, Fraz’s bass burbling contentedly alongside Owen’s rapid and pensive vocal, it, like the earlier similarly acoustic tune, does fail to make an emotional connection but it’s a nice, pleasant close to this record.

Overall this is a so-so record, but not enough of this band’s particular personality seems to come across on these 11 tracks, you can pick out some of their influences but you can’t get much of a feel for who this quartet really are, and that’s a shame. Here and there, specifically Full Band Backing, they deliver something pretty interesting, but for the most part this is pretty standard fare.


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