Volcanoes have had a lot of bad press lately, thanks to a certain Eyjafjallajokull spewing ash all over Europe, without any consideration for all those poor bastards who can actually afford to go on holidays . Makes you want to cry about their plight doesn’t it? Fortunately, the Volcanoes being written about here are not Icelandic; they’re based in Yorkshire, which isn’t on a major tectonic plate boundary. In addition to this, they’re not a mountain of ash, but a four piece band with a new EP called Sugar and Snarls which is not only excellent, lively and varied but definitely won’t be disrupting any international air travel. Good news all round then.
'Level Up' is an incredibly entertaining opening track about..wait for it...video games! It had to be with a title like that didn’t it? Mean, frantic guitar riffs feature throughout this incredibly charged high tempo track with Samson Bedford’s vocals keeping pace with the music. The lyrics are creative with chorus’ main hook being ‘At least I’ve got my medikit.’ Occasionally the words are slightly unintelligible but that’s to be expected with any fast-paced, guitar heavy post-punk tune.
The high tempo mayhem continues with 'Fret In The Half Moon'. This track features even more speedy guitar rhythms which are often sharper and spikier than those of 'Level Up'. That said, this offering isn’t all about the frantic guitars with the track occasionally softening, demonstrating an influence by Maximo Park both instrumentally and vocally. (After looking at Volcanoes' Myspace, they do in fact list Maximo Park as an influence...this is definitely apparent on this track, and also means your dear reviewer is a genius for deducing this fact)
Now, swing isn’t something that many ‘indie’ bands tend to experiment with but Volcanoes do just that with 'Pigs In Blankets' and they do it magnificently. The highlight of this is the bass guitar, played fantastically by Boa International. The toe-tapping riff would fit in with a 1930’s swing band...or an episode of Sylvester and Tweety... and really is a joy to listen, and yes, dance to. The drum work of Chris Hall only adds to the authenticity of the swing beat. This is a totally different sound to the rest of Sugar and Snarls, but it works perfectly.
Volcanoes demonstrate that have more than just a couple of arrows for their musical bow with yet another change in style for 'Fathoms'. This is slower and more heartfelt than the rest of the EP and features numerous key changes which demonstrate the musical ability of these four guys. The track generally has a low-fi feel to it but there also appear to be vocal influences from Kasabian within this one.
Four tracks, four different styles and ultimately four excellent tracks, Sugar And Snarls demonstrates what bands should ultimately be- varied, exciting and entertaining. If Volcanoes can keep this creativity going with their future work, they’ll soon surely be exploding all over the indie music scene.
(Originally written for Gobshout)