Exeter may not initially strike you as a “music Mecca”, but on further inspection we found that quite a few highly regarded musicians were born here and influential bands were formed here (most notably it was where Radiohead were born). It was also the birth place of Coldplay‘s Chris Martin, but we wont hold that against it. I Divide are the latest band to attempt to put Exeter on the map, and what a crazy few years it’s been for this Devonshire quintet.
“Last One Standing” follows on from 2011’s ‘mini-album’ release “What’s Worth More,” since then we have witnessed the band enjoy considerable rapid success. 2012 saw I Divide win the Red Bull Bedroom Jam accolade before going on to play major festivals up and down the country. In 2013 the band returned to the prestigious Download Festival to open the Second Stage, playing alongside industry legends Iron Maiden, Motorhead and Alice in Chains amongst others. They also returned to Reading and Leeds festival as part of their BBC Introducing stage, toured with Welsh rockers, Funeral For a Friend, and set out on a headline tour which saw them sell out London’s O2’s Islington Academy 2.
Phew! All of that before releasing their first full length studio album? Good going, lads!
So does this highly anticipated album live up to the hype and warrant the obvious ground work that the band have put in to promoting it?
In a genre which is over-saturated with samey-sounding bands, there really needs to be that ‘something’ that makes me want to sit up and take notice and not just throw the CD on the ever-growing ‘heard it all before’ pile. Have I Divide got what it takes to stand out?
“Last One Standing” starts the ball rolling with the preliminary single release, ‘Follow Me’. It is immediately catchy and provides an instantaneous hook and an air of familiarity. The anthemic quality of the chorus and catchy riffs will have you feeling that you’ve heard this song before, and leave you humming it hours later. This provides a very strong start to the album, and the quality doesn’t ever seem to falter too far from the opener.
Songs such as ‘I’m Not Leaving’, ‘Cold at the Bottom’ and ‘Say it Isn’t So’ explore the softer melodies of the band, allowing Tom Kavanagh‘s raw, emotion-led vocals to take centre stage with unhindered passion. ‘Look At Me Now’ is probably the best example of how good a vocalist Kavanagh is, and also serves as a huge ‘fuck you’ to any doubters. However, the vocals aren’t the only part of this band worth shouting about. Equal praise should be given to the rest of the band – Dave Mooney on drums, Kristen Hughes on bass, and guitarists Henry Selley and Josh Wreford all pull their weight in making this album a worthy listen. Influences from nu-metal and melodic hardcore become more apparent within heavier songs such as ‘Tell Me Something’, ‘Run Away’ and ‘Let Go’. Catchy riffs, interesting guitar effects and bouncy choruses ensures ‘Monster In Me’ will be a fan favourite when played live.
’27 Down’ features the guest vocals from Anaevae‘s Rebecca Need-Menear, whose dulcet tones harmonise perfectly with Kavanagh‘s giving the song a sense of depth and true emotion.
All in all, “Last One Standing” is an extremely impressive debut which shows an incredible amount of maturity from such a young band. Whereas I don’t think it’s entirely unfair to compare I Divide with current bands of the same ilk, I believe there is more to this band than many of their current contemporaries. There are clearly influences from a wide range of genres, and I think it’s only a matter of time before I Divide further mould their own style and strengthen their sound.