|The Exploding Boy|
Taking their name from the under-rated b-side track from The Cure, this band hails from Stockholm, Sweden and was formed in 2006 by Johan Sjo¨blom and Les Andersson. Their debut self-titled album was released in 2007 and during that time and shortly thereafter they performed several live shows. They released their sophomore Afterglow in 2009 and by this time they were touring more extensively and live shows included the Wave Gotik Treffen festival. Their third album The Black Album was released in 2011 and these years would see them touring more in Germany and Switzerland and other parts of Europe. The band captured the attention of Drakkar Entertainment for the release of their fourth full-length album, simply titled Four.
It was with the release of The Black Album that we heard this band their captivating music. From the start there were several tracks that were fun and captured our attention and with time the album has really grown on us and our listeners here. So it was with great pleasure when we received word of a new release coming out and on top of it being released by Drakkar in Europe, having it licensed in North America by Art Of Fact helps to boost their fanbase across the globe and it will be great to introduce their music to this new fanbase. While there are bands a dime a dozen that take inspiration from bands like The Cure and Joy Division with similar styles, it takes a little special something to stand out from the rest. So it is with this group and their music on these two albums we feature here.
Four - Review
Presenting the band's fourth album, appropriately titled Four. Here we see the band continue to develop and establish their solid style of guitar-grinding, post-punk and shoegazer styles. We haven't had to wait too long since their previous work, and for me it has been nice to allow the band's music and style to grow on me to the point I was looking forward to this release and was very pleased to hear that Drakkar had picked them up in Europe and ArtOfFact was releasing this album to their North American audience. The album comes loaded with great music spanning ten tracks that fans should really enjoy.
Throughout this album it's great to hear the band establish and build on their core styles, including the driving, grinding guitar layered over the heavy, moving percussion creating a energetic rhythm great for clubs or just dancing wherever you might be. This really comes out strong on the first couple of tracks "Cracked/Reason" and "Street Cliché" with the moving beat guitars. This mixture of driving music provide a great backdrop for the vocals, at times cold and uncaring while at others dripping with emotion and angst. When the vocals really show the emotion, that's when they really shine, otherwise the music really carries the emotion of these pieces. Leaving the emotional compoonent behind, some tracks are more fun or catchy in other ways. "Going to Hell" is one of these as the title suggests it seems a little more tongue-in-cheek. Overall I can get through this album and really enjoy it as a whole, with the exception of one piece which is appropriately named "Awful", it is truly awful. The music itself isn't that bad, sporting a very early The Cure-esque style, however, the lyrics and vocals just turn my insides on this piece.
Leaving that one negative comment aside, this is really a great album with great tracks. Favorites run the gamut of styles and intensity, though the more emotion-filled pieces to stand out more in my mind. Some of the aforementioned pieces are great as they really keep the body moving and are some fun tracks. "Dark City (Pt. II)" is a nice piece featured a lot as their first single from this album with an accompanying video that's worth checking out. "Runaways" is one of those angst-ridden, emotion-filled pieces I mentioned earlier that really stand out. It carries a bit more of a gothic mixed with classic rock style that starts off somber and moody and slowly builds to a captivating climax and a really powerful piece. Other pieces like "Always" also stand out with a bit more of the classic punk meets new wave sound for a fun piece. "Get It Out" and "Scared To Death" bring the intensity down a notch and wrap up the album nicely with a bit more of that new wave style.
Overall another great album, definitely a nice addition to my collection and to the radio waves and pages of Gothic Paradise. Those enjoying a bit more of the guitar-driven post-punk and shoegazer sound should really enjoy it, so don't hesitate to pick it up.
The Black Album - Review
Here we have this band's third official full-length album featuring a broad range of music in the post-punk and shoegazer genres we've come to enjoy from them. The album really showcases the band's talents and excellent influences across ten great tracks. This album is a real treat and new classic for fans of the standard legendary post-punk bands like The Cure from their earlier years as well as Joy Division and newer contemporary artists like Principe Valiente and Veil Veil Vanish.
The album kicks off with "Human" with it's catchy rhythm and mix of guitars and synths with a moving beat which really sets the stage for much of the album. The intensity, style and tempo vary quite a bit throughout the duration of the album, sometimes featuring more of the grinding guitars, a bit of distortion and plenty of reverb for the driving punk meets shoegaze style, while at other times it's a clean-cut post-punk sound very similar to The Cure about the time of the band's namesake b-side track. At other times the electronics come out for more of a modern edge to the music, all keeping the music dynamic and fun.
As with many albums there are definitely some highlights and stand-out tracks that have quickly become favorites for me and our listeners. I think right from the start "Torn" is one of these pieces that shines in it's dynamics as it shifts from a minimalistic style of bass and percussion on each verse and then kicking in the grinding guitars and reverb for the chorus. This stellar track fades right into another great piece in the form of "Dark City". Taking a slightly darker turn with a moodier mix of bass and guitar over a dance-friendly, simplistic beat, this track is another definite piece perfect for a single. Moving on a bit we hit a definite favorite with "Sweet Little Lies". Here we have an excellent mix of heavy electronics added to the moving guitars and pounding beat. This piece is one of the more powerful anthemic sounds and is great for the club, dance-friendly and moving, including a slightly different vocal style as well, really reaching down deep for an emotionally charged track. As the album starts to come to a close, we're presented with the only official single from the album with "Here Comes The Rain". Much like "Sweet Little Lies", the vocals are more intense and emotional as the music is very dynamic, building and fading from verse to chorus for a really excellent piece. The album goes out in style with the final track "The Man" really poring on the speed, power and intensity. The tempo really moves with a fast-paced beat along the lines of many punk tracks, yet still keeping the subtle, darker moods of the goth and post-punk styles.
There you have it, a really powerful and moving album that fans of these genres should really love. I've been listening to this album and selections many times over and over and these tracks have really grown on me with their dynamics and classic new wave and post-punk style. While not perfect, there are some real gems on this album that will be playing on Gothic Paradise for years to come.
Website: The Exploding Boy on Soundcloud
Buy at iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/four/id720874583