The Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner’s vocals combined with the organ-grinding of The Horrors, in an amp-filled Sheffield room already inhabited by The Kills and Queens of The Stone Age. If it sounds cramped in there, that’s probably because these talented chaps play at least eight instruments between them.
Vocalist Thomas Rowley, bassist Ryan Sellars and drummer Joseph Green were in both forerunners to Dead Sons – Milburn and The Backhanded Compliments. The latter had a much darker, more desert rock feel than the former, a feel which has continued with this project.
As pounding drums march, feedback howls and guitars screech, they start to resemble a hybrid of new and old Arctic Monkeys, chucking the odd softer, ponderously paced song in amongst the more frequent guitar explosions. I found it to be an enjoyable hybrid, even if they do lack the songcraft and originality of their Sheffield brethren. They don’t deal with earthy, unusual themes such as prostitution and bouncers, and aren’t quite the breath of fresh air that those aforementioned polar primates were when they first emerged.
The best example of Dead Sons’ lyrics falling short is ‘Bangonfullturn’. This is a song made up entirely of seemingly random words, going a step further than the Chili Peppers’ ‘By The Way’, which utters the immortal words of wisdom, ‘Steak knife/Card shark/Con job/Boot cut’. The first verse of ‘Bangonfullturn’ is: ‘Jackknife, landslide, typhoon/Blackheart, canine, monsoon’.
Maybe there’s some amazingly clever subtext I’m missing there, or maybe they just got high and watched a disaster movie. Either way, the song as a whole has a good sound – and so does the album.
For me, they’ve chosen well by releasing ‘Bangonfullturn’, ‘Room 54’ and ‘Shotgun Woman’ (amongst others) as singles. That last song randomly reached no. 2 in the Turkish charts, and while they’re obviously far from mainstream (thankfully), I still find it a bit surprising that they’ve not generated more buzz here.
With the release of this debut album on 18th February though, that might all be about to change…