Our Time Down Here
Take Flight Records
05 March 2012
by Alex Andrews
It’s been nearly a decade since the heydays of London’s Household Name Records, and though a question mark may loom over the label’s legacy, it’s certainly been a long time since the UK has held its native punk bands with the same affinity as their stateside cousins. Though Our Time Down Here bear little resemblance to the likes of Capdown, Lightyear or Five Knuckle, they’re as easily accessible, as staunchly independent and they appear to be waving the same ragged flag for British punk rock.
Perhaps ironically, the influences which shape Midnight Mass are entirely American. Though Will Gould sings without accent, his controlled croon is halfway between Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba and Lifetime’s Ari Katz. Meanwhile, the remainder of the band continue in the same vein as 2011’s Last Light EP, whilst edging themselves further from their earlier hardcore material. Now in the business of hook-laden, high-energy punk rock, it’s a contrast that the band’s soul is a sombre one. Their infatuation with “horror punk” and AFI in particular, lends an almost theatrical, gloomy glow to the album, but Gould is more reflective than his heroes, looking towards personal experiences rather than morbid B-movies for lyrical inspiration.
OTDH may not manage to cram the songs with quite as many hooks as they did with the EP, but they succeed in creating something far more expansive and ambitious than most would have predicted. Having allegedly taken inspiration from Ryan Gosling’s Dead Man’s Bones, the album encompasses acoustic guitars, a children’s choir and a number of dramatic spoken word passages. On ‘Precognition’, the band charge onwards with ferocity, before the song swells to the sound of Gould’s refrain: “To feel your bones beside my bones, I would feel less alone”. Elsewhere, ‘The Power of Charm’ gets broken up by bluesy breakdowns and ‘Be My Baby’ drums, whilst Thom Denson from Kerouac pops up to forcefully declare “We are the 6am sermon” on ‘The Reckoning’.
Above all, Midnight Mass is an album in the truest sense of the world. Everything, from the expertly placed backing vocals to its overall seamless, thematic flow make the hard graft which contributed to make it, very evident. There are times when the band strays a little too close to MTV2 territory, but this is a solid and engaging record that’s melodic enough to hook you in and interesting enough to keep you there.
Sounds like: Alkaline Trio, AFI, Brand New
Standout tracks: Precognition, The Reckoning, 4 Months