Trash Boat – Look Alive review

TBLook Alive opens with a loud, statement riff that sets the mood for the EP – full on. Cluttered Sign makes a rather eclectic opener; for a start, half the lyrics sound as though they wouldn’t be out of place in a Brand New track (if you take the words themselves), and the other half sound like what they are… from a band’s debut EP. Despite a catchy chorus that really shows off how well the band can mesh together, the drumming feels somewhat excessive in the verses, and there’s a definite competition to control the track. In second track, Boneless, there’s a dramatic improvement; the rise and fall of the music matches the vocals much better, taking away the supposed desire for one musician to control the record. It also feels much more mature as the lyrics are a lot less forced for the majority, despite at some points there still being differences in the tempo between aspects of the track. Overall, though, the sound feels a lot tighter and well structured.

Gnarmalade offers another change; this time regarding the vocals. The layered combination of clean and harsh vocals added to the smoother switches between the focus on bass and drums lead to a track that sounds more controlled and withheld, yet better for it. I believe I’ve said before that anyone can fill a record with unleashed sound, but knowing how and when to control it shows a previously unobtainable talent. The excellence of this track combined with its length (only 1.44) would’ve made this an ideal opener, and it’s rather puzzling that this isn’t the first track of the EP. Final track, Lock-In, would also have made a brilliant opener – unlike the others, it has a slower introduction, but features the same brutally stark lyrics once it gets going. A breakdown that fragments and slows the pace of the song again displays that they can keep themselves under control, but a few flat/missed/unfitting notes slightly let the side down.

I think the main problem with this EP is that it’s been made too quickly; the band clearly has an abundance of talent, and it all seems to have been injected into this first release, making it a bit clustered and overwhelming. If given a chance to strip the tracks back, perhaps perform them acoustically and see what worked and could be gained/adapted from that, then rerecord the EP, I’m sure the entire release would be up to the standard of Boneless and Gnarmalade. For fans of full on pop-punk with brutally relatable lyrics, this is a recommended listen, and I don’t doubt that once they’ve honed in on their “sound”, these guys will be set for big things.

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