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explodingboy alarms
Artist: The Exploding Boy
Title: Alarms
Genre: Dark Indie
Release Date: 18th May 2018
Label: Drakkar Entertainment


Album Review

Fifth time out for Sweden’s THE EXPLODING BOY, and a definite shift from 2013’s ‘Four’ album. ‘Alarms’ feels more focussed, certainly more slick, and lyrically deals with a number of current ethical and political themes. Less post-punk and jagged than previous releases, there’s a polish that occasionally borders on over-production, and a somewhat bombastic approach that roots this at times in U2/Simple Minds territory back when they stopped being interesting and became the lumpen juggernauts that sold millions. Will this be a million seller for THE EXPLODING BOY? No. Does it matter? Also no, because despite this surprising foray into a more comfortable middle-age, there is still excellent song-writing on display here, right from the off.

‘Fireland (The End Of Dark City)’ is a moody, pacy opener with a massive, soaring chorus, wrapped up in a kind of over-wrought earnestness that suits it. It’s followed by the scuzzy guitars and drum-thump of ‘Alarms In Silence’, which harks back to the WIRE influenced earlier days, and another chorus plucked from a seemingly endless supply the band must possess – always useful for rescuing a poor song, but as with much on this album, the whole sense of melody and structure is so good that a memorable chorus merely supports a memorable song. As indeed it should do. So wide-brimmed hats off to them for this!

There’s a real joyous punch to ‘Run Red’, and it would be easy to imagine Bono sitting in his armchair stroking his chin at this one, if he wasn’t so busy saving the world or whatever he does these days. Things get very pop on ‘Stop Time’, easy harmonies and a driving beat making this sound like a thousand other similar songs, only here done much better. Slowing everything down on ‘Pointless Action’ breaks the momentum sadly, and it slouches rather sulkily towards its finishing line with lead boots and a grumpy attitude. ‘Danger Zone’ that follows is meat-and-spuds indie rock, and ‘Sign O’ the Times’ feels like a lyricist trying to find music to fit and having to compromise. It gets better after a few listens but is a touch wince-inducing at first.

‘O.H.M.Y.G.O.D’ manages to sound like MEN AT WORK (don’t think I’ve ever said THAT before about anyone), ‘Liar’s Roar’ back to more familiar territory, and what THE EXPLODING BOY excel at - guitar driven, power-pop and dark indie. It’s a fabulous rush. More of this please! Nine minute long closer ’11.59’ begins a steady swell mid-way through, and you know exactly where this one is going. Huge of sound, stadium built, arms aloft, eyes closed. There’s even that rare beast the guitar solo thrown into the heady mix, and if one had been available on the day, you suspect an orchestra would have gone in there too. Good stuff.

‘Alarms’ is an unusual album in that it’s better than it sounds. They’ve set the controls for vast and epic, and something has got lost by always aiming big – and yet these are good songs, well sung and well played. And perhaps as a live band, THE EXPLODING BOY wish now to move from clubs and get themselves on bigger stages and everything here certainly lends itself to that. Intimacy has been lost, but the ambition is still admirable if the quality is still there. And deep down, it is.


Tracklist

01. Fireland (The End Of Dark City)
02. Alarms In Silence
03. The Day
04. Run Red
05. Stop Time
06. Pointless Action
07. Danger Zone
08. Sign O’ the Times
09. O.H.M.Y.G.O.D.
10. Liar’s Roar
11. 11.59


Line-up

Johan - Vocals/Acoustic Guitar
Stefan - Vocals/Electric Guitar
Les - Lead Guitar
Nick - Keyboards
Mattias - Bass
Richard - Drums


Website

https://www.facebook.com/theexplodingboysweden / https://theexplodingboyofficial.bandcamp.com


Cover Picture

explodingboy alarms


Rating

Music: 8
Sound: 7
Total: 7.5 / 10


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