Saturday, 26 January 2013

Review: Mallory Knox - Signals

There is no possible way I could ignore a band that is getting a mainstream buildup and widespread attention as up-and-coming quintet Mallory Knox. And so far, it seems fair enough, the band have effortlessly portrayed performances both as emotional and aggressive as the Natural Born Killers character from which they take their name, so they could well be a further addition to the more powerful than ever institution of British rock. Certainly, on the strength of their debut full length Signals the British Empire of rock continues to stand tall.

One of the main thing this album really does is let you identify just how much substance can still be worked into what is very much a tried and tested formula of songwriting. It's a game of using the highly identifiable verse-pre-chorus-chorus-verse-pre-chorus-chorus-bridge-chorus formula without causing listeners to realise that they are listening to a formula. And the band come out as top players. Lead single Lighthouse shines with this formulaic structure, and it's by far a formulaic structure painted with gold, through the abrasive guitar chugging and intricate lead-work of Joe Savins and James Gillet and soaring vocals of frontman Mikey Chapman delivering powerful choruses guaranteed to get people in venues of all shapes and sizes belting along the choruses to said single and anthemic roof-raisers like the tall standing Wolves and Hello.

But delivering powerful emotion is something that comes as a second nature to this band, as they handle it so effortlessly. At their most aggressive, like in Wake Up, with it's intro echoing Beastie Boys' Sabotage and the massively built up title track, the band display a more melodic and personal take on the sound of the now officially departed Alexisonfire, while 1949 is a textbook work of awesome balladry that leaves listeners with some faith in life as Chapman effortlessly delivers his song from the point of view of an old man that still feels a passionate love for his wife he met in 1949. It is a triumph of songwriting.

Of course, 1949 resembles the turning point in Signals if you will. Before then there is some questioning to be had about Chapman as a frontman. His vocals are so clean cut and it takes a while for any personality to really come out at first, unlike the immediate kind of recognizable tone you could find in listening to Young Guns or Lower Than Atlantis and sound more suited for a band like Fall Out Boy, (A band, who if today's official reunion rumours are true, I will be trying to get tickets for the subsequent UK Tour. And what?) however, it's that fifth track, where his performances becomes that bit more confident and growing in identity, and from there, he leads all proceedings on the album with enough confidence to deliver a smooth blues ballad for a rough generation on Bury Your Head, which at first, I was hoping to be a mindless chug-fest in tribute to Bury Your Dead, however this song does a too great job in carrying a sense of modern day class, for it to become a real problem.

There's little else to make about this album, other than, in what seems to be a rare case these days, a rock band that has been massively built up by various forms of press and our occasional buddies at Radio 1 are actually really worth listening to and do a great job of proving that the very traditional songwriting method still carries a high amount of relevance in a world where everyone believes that everything has been done before. Mallory Knox undoubtedly put everything they have into Signals and you can feel the outbursts of emotion they have with each soaring chorus, all of which need to be learnt by all gig visitors to make up what will be a hell of a night for each show. May the Empire of British rock stand eternally.

Mallory Knox's Signals is out now via A Wolf at Your Door. The band will tour the UK in February with Don Broco and Hey Vanity.

1 comment:

  1. No mention of the other 2 members? I sense from a nr of interviews that the bass player Sam has lots of song writing ideas and could be the main lyricist - although the band have also said they all have their say in the final recording. And what about mighty Dave, with the sticks - just watch him live and burn the calories - he is immense. Over the past few days they have picked up new support but perhaps also from an expanded age range. Some of their songs have many elements (i.e within the same song) and could cross over different radio station types. E.g 1949 and Lighthouse from "Signals" or Oceans and Promises from "Pilot" (also a must have EP surely) may not be out of place on Kerrang, Radio 1 .. or even Radio 2 which has a much older average audience. Keep it going guys!