Review by Joey Stoate
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After the release of their previous E.P. And Sings And Ampersands back in 2012, Nottingham based trio Some Skeletons are set to unleash their debut semi-concept album Vigils unto the world this Friday, citing influences such as Deftones and Brand New. Is Vigils the right step for the boys on their road to success, or are Some Skeletons best left in the closet?
(I am so, so sorry.)
Opening the record is soft, contemplative opener The Mouth, a Wonder Years-like introduction to the band’s melodic, emo-rock sensibilities. As an introduction, it sets the listener up well for second track, To Exceed, To Achieve. With a powerful, punchy intro and catchy, Biffy Clyro-esque chorus, the song features one of the most interesting vocal lines of the record, one that grabs the listener straight away and ultimately stays with them for days.
Moving on to Indoor Meteors, we come to the first inkling of the aforementioned Deftones influence, albeit in a lighter fashion than the band’s peers such as Black Peaks. The song really shows off the immeasurable talent of drummer James Housley and his brilliant understanding of subtlety and dynamics, as well as focusing on an incredibly catchy bassline courtesy of Simon J Curd. Unfortunately, this is also the first taste of the album’s fairly poor lyrical content. Whilst the line “There’s no place a ghost can’t go” might make contextual sense given the album’s conceptual sights, sonically the words come across as frankly, a bit silly, cheapening what is otherwise a great track. Track four, Up On The Rocks once again trips up on it’s lyrical content, but manages to maintain the listeners interest with a bigger emphasis on strong, impressive melodies, as well as showcasing scope that’s really commendable for a band of their size.
It’s with that, we come to the real tragedy of the record. Beach Party, a few days ago, was far and away the best song on the album, showcasing a fantastic distorted intro that really packs a punch, along with a punk rock atmosphere that really stands out amongst the album’s more sedate offerings. However, it’s the lyrics once again, only this time it’s sadly unforgivable. Only when listening to the album on a train a couple of days back did I realise just what I was hearing, and to list the song’s many vocal flaws would require an entire review in itself. To put it simply, the song’s mismatched lyrical attempt at sentimentality with lines about, well, ‘dinner’ make the track downright laughable, contextually associated with the album’s conceptual themes or not. A catastrophic shame.
Let’s not dwell on that though, shall we, as No Respite serves to be yet another stand out on the album, with even more Biffy vibes oozing from the song’s melodies as well as its intricate structure. Off-kilter verses hang on yet more intuitive stickwork, and the guitar noodling is particularly effective here. It’s the same case with the wonderfully titled Hi, Give Me Disease, with another great vocal performance blending with the punchy, ska-bounce like second verse. Penultimate track Ex-Sceptics features one final great opening riff, and is another true stand out on the album with a fantastic chorus. The album comes to a close with a re-tread of album opener The Mouth, bookending the record nicely with an ascension to an appropriately understated crescendo to see the listener out.
This review is a little longer than I’m sure you’re used to, but this time around I feel the need to really convey my feelings more than ever. Please let me stress this; Vigils is not a bad album, in fact it’s quite the opposite, and really I have a lot of time for Some Skeletons. Hell, this is the first album I’ve reviewed for Stabbed Panda that I’ll still be listening to a few months down the road, if only to understand. The album holds so much ambition and drive, I’m incredibly keen to see them play the material live, because played right I’m sure they’ll destroy any bill they’re placed on. It’s wonderful to see that in a time where more tracks are mistaken as value for money, a band still understands that it’s quality over quantity, that trimming the fact is necessary to make a real impact on the listener. However despite this, the album’s lyrical content is downright unforgivable in places, and I could see the record being accused of becoming pretty samey in places. With some work, Some Skeletons really do have the potential to become truly massive, but for some people, those hammy words could be a real turn off, and it’s that aspect that holds me back from giving this record a great score. Please check out Some Skeletons, because this may be just what you’re looking for.