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For most, Rise Records had become a staling vessel for post-hardcore pretenders known for churning out those all too familiar tunes. Leave it to Sharks, a punk rock band from Leamington Spa, England of all things, to shake things up. Oh, so obscure to me, their debut full-length ‘No Gods’ has released following a whirlwind touring season, including a run of shows with punk royalty Social Distortion and playing the entire Warped Tour last year.
The record is bold, as even though Sharks are a punk rock group by definition, their music, at times, can’t be pigeon-holed so easily. Elements of grass-roots punk and plain old faithful pop-rock are both present and aid in making the ‘No Gods’ experience a relatively unique one.
There’s a blue-collar quality to Sharks that makes them instantly endearing.
“’Til The Wonders Rise” opens the record with an immediate punk-rock blitz, complete with hook laden verses and a big chorus; essentially laying the groundwork for the tour de force that’s brewing. It’s even got a pair of incredibly fun guitar solos that bookend the very fine bridge. A wonderful start to a debut record, that’s for sure.
Up next is first single “Arcane Effigies”. A justified choice if you ask this critic; it calls to mind a Bad Religion at the height of their powers. A lyrically spectacular chorus gives this track punk-anthem license and should, by all rights, be a radio hit.
If you’re in the market for one of the catchiest punk tracks I’ve ever heard, you can’t look past the Social Distortion-esque “On a Clear Day You Can See Yourself”. Quirky lyrics and a sublimely blended cocktail of galloping punk riffage and blue-roots licks makes it a song of two very contrasting, but incredible, halves. The chorus is home to one of singer James Mattock’s better lyrics, too: “…between the time you bide, and the time you waste.”
“Patient Spider” is another stand-out track and is a testament to just how upper echelon the punk-rock songwriting by Sharks actually is. The charming brass arrangement in the main hook is just great and fits the refreshing tone of the record to a tee.
Between “Patient Spider” and the closing titular track, there aren’t any overly remarkable tracks. I can’t dub them filler because, despite not being memorable, they still contain moments. I’m a big fan of moments on records, even if it’s a fleeting minute at the end of a track like in “Turn To You” or the heated guitar solo in “Luck”.
Sharks have surpassed any expectations I had and have rekindled a love of punk music that has been dormant in me since the release of the last great Bad Religion record. It’s a record full of potential number-one hits, but I simply can’t go past “On a Clear Day…” as I mentioned earlier. It’s a microcosm of what ‘No Gods’ is all about – a bit of brash, catchy fun. If you consider yourself even the mildest of punk enthusiast, get around Sharks. They’re going to be a big deal.
1. ‘Til The Wonders Rise
2. Arcade Effigies
3. Able Moving Hearts
4. On a Clear Day You Can See Yourself
5. Matthew’s Baby
6. Patient Spider
7. Turn To You
8. Dawn Soft Light
9. What Entails?
11. No Gods