Departures / Moose Blood
Fist in the Air / No Sleep Records
11 November 2013
by Alex Andrews
You can’t blame for Departures for their sincerity; hardcore has always taken itself far too seriously and the Glaswegians’ particular brand has been inherited from a time when the genre was becoming increasingly self-aware and beginning to develop poetic pretensions. While this kind of music can feel desperate, primal and life-affirming, Departures fall into the trap of sounding meticulously-studied and a little too slick.
It’s frustrating, because the band are clearly competent and have been gifted with enviable hook-writing abilities. Still, the weight of the band’s aesthetics hangs heavy. Take these lyrics: “I learned the art of keeping secrets from everyone I know / I’ve learned to keep my broken promises / Keep them inside and let them grow”. The themes and the anguished vocal which delivers them are the same we’ve endured over and over again from contemporary hardcore bands. The same is true of the moderately-distorted guitars, the pedestrian tempo and the melodic interplay between the guitars; it all feels routine.
Moose Blood make an early cameo on the record, with Eddie Brewerton’s lending his melodic twang to Departures’ ‘Song For The Sunset’. The anticipation for two new songs of their own is high, after already causing a buzz this year with two reference-riddled EPs that sounded like they were made by bookish boys suffering from wheat allergies (or whichever ailment is the most emo). Now that they’ve outed themselves as the kind of chiselled hardcore kids that hold cigarettes behind their ears and wear hats – but not socks – indoors, the prospect of the band’s potential seems much bigger.
‘Stay Here’ and ‘Girl’ are slightly scrappier than what we’ve came to expect from the band, but more or less pick up from where Moving Home left off. Brewerton’s strained vocal style and the band’s fondness for dipping in and out of hushed sentimentality makes their beloved Brand New an easy reference point, but the band’s chiming pop-punk isn’t far off The Gaslight Anthem. Disappointingly, the hooks aren’t as big as before and neither of them leave you with much to remember them by.
It’s encouraging to see a US label like No Sleep Records support two young UK bands, but there’s no much else that can be said about this record. Departures bring their game, but do nothing to differentiate themselves from the bands that influenced them. The bigger shame though is Moose Blood who fail to build in earlier promise with a distinctly average effort.
Sounds Like: Punk rock re-imagined by Urban Outfitters.
Standout Tracks: N/A