EP REVIEW: LANDMARKS – ‘IN SPITE OF IT ALL’

8 stars

I have to admit, when the chance to review new music from Manchester’s Landmarks came across my desk [I don’t really own a desk, please just imagine that I do for the sake of the story] I leapt at the opportunity! Having shared a stage with them back in May, and having a thoroughly enjoyable experience I thought it would only be right to give their music a jolly good going over!

Let’s talk for a minute about the title ‘In Spite Of It All’, having read how during the recording process this band had their equipment stolen towards the end of the process my heart absolutely sank! Honestly; that is one of my greatest fears as a touring musician! So ‘in spite of’ that, the fact they’re still here, playing shows and churning out songs of this quality is a testament to the calibre of the guys that we’re talking about here. I think that you should probably buy this EP purely out of respect for them, it sounds like they’ve been through a pretty crappy time.

It’s been a good couple of years for pop-punk though hasn’t it? I see Neck Deep t-shirts literally everywhere, and when I was at 2000 Trees last month the whole festival was crammed full of brightly dressed, pizza-loving kids who probably hate their hometown. So I’m happy to say that this burst of melodic, hooky, and varied songwriting has probably landed at just the right time.

The EP opens with straight-up pop-punk banger ‘Translucent’, it throws me straight back to my teenage years of getting home and sticking on Kerrang and being comforted by the familiarity of songs that just feel right. It’s nice to hear how guitarist Tom uses harmony parts to drive the tension and release of this track. It has all the components of a great song: a judicious spattering of musical techniques that are endemic of the style, a solid structure that pushes the energy and focus exactly where it’s needed, topped off with a really strong chorus that just hits where it needs to. I feel that this should have probably been the lead single, this track really showcases what this band is capable of.

For me, the standalone track on this EP is ‘Friend Of Mine’, it’s broody and ominous, yet sweet and has a sophisticated maturity in its execution. This is one of those little gems that makes me want to see this band do well. Vocalist Brad Shea is at his strongest on this and I love that you can really hear his passion for this song, paired with the superb backing vocal harmonies this is something I will unashamedly give a good singalong to at the next opportunity! The 6/8 time signature is a tasty feature that has me merrily bopping my head. There are some weird discrepancies where the bass drum doesn’t ‘quite’ sound like it’s landing in the right place; I’m sure that this is by no means fault of the band, but it’s something that as a musician I feel that detracts from my overall enjoyment of the song.

‘In Spite of It All’ closes with the weirdly anthemic ‘With Clarity’, It is a perfectly executed track that harks back to the band’s last EP ‘Fighting Gravity’, showcasing how they’ve grown as a band and have learned to deal with slightly darker subject matter than on their other tracks. This track is a journey from start to finish, and I think it will be a touch divisive between their fanbase. It leans more towards the fringes of alt-rock, and culminates in a gloriously distorted major chord that leaves me doing the ‘ooooh that was cool’ face.

Overall, I think this a good record and will serve this band very well in their career, that being said; I couldn’t help finding myself slightly underwhelmed by the overall delivery. It’s not even that I don’t like the songs, there’s some really decent composition here; I just can’t help but feel a malaise towards them. This EP covers a lot of ground musically, and while I am all about that normally, it’s as though each song showcases an element of why this band are really good, but side-by-side you can hear where they need to pool these elements together. I don’t want to sound like I’m ragging on this band, I’m really not!.. I think that my discomfort comes from the fact that it’s really good, but I don’t know if it’s been pushed into its final form. If you can imagine that this is Landmarks at 85%, can you imagine what that extra nudge will turn them into? I am genuinely excited to hear what will come next from them, honestly lads.. you’ve got something about you.

The EP is out on the 12/08/16 from Scylla Records, you can get the 12” Vinyl here.

Written by: Alexander Gibbons

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