Following a long period of playing shows with no big releases, emo/grunge mob Muskets are back with their debut full-length album CHEW, which quickly establishes its dominance over the modern grunge scene. Opening track Pond Drop features chunky guitar sounds with altered chords for a slightly eerie tone. First single 17 Years follows this up, showing the more brutal side of this album which is more reminiscent of 2014 EP Spin. The track itself was released about a year ago before the album prep was complete and this version is a rerecording on the new label to go with the album. The gruff vocals that dominate the chorus and the crunchy bass tone through the bridge show Muskets at their best are a force to be reckoned with.
The guitar and bass tones shine throughout the album on every track; the bass introductions to 17 Years and Decay are distorted and groove-laden but even under the loud, punky Chewing Gum it beats away to underpin the sliding leads. In the same way, throughout intros like Breathing the guitar is a dirty hum of chording with lead sections in You’re So Cool are packed with a shimmery shoegaze tone that sounds fantastic over the top of the rest of the beat.
At the more punk end of the album’s spectrum, Frankie Stable is a fast, dynamic track with a bit more of the “let’s keep this sloppy and see how it goes” feel that defines Muskets in the market today. The first verse is a fairly high, shouted section that breaks into slower, groovy chorus to make a smooth blend of tuned and raw that works to great effect. Closing the album with Umbilical saves the slowest for last but is by no means the least of the tracks. The trippy end piece plays the album out with a mellow guitar feedback section with a slow bassline thudding away to finish off the collection.
Perhaps the most notable thing about the whole album (as with the rest of the band’s discography to date) is the rare addition of Anglicised vocals throughout CHEW which comes as a welcome break from the faux-American accents put on by a lot of UK vocalists across the genres. Hearing the UK origins in a band is particularly satisfying when they have such great natural potential.
Overall the only real criticism that can be made of the album is that it lacks stylistic variety, but the fact it’s their debut album just goes to show they’ve found their sound throughout the last few years and have made a mastery of it before releasing the full-length. A fantastic delivery on the promise their single and EP showed, very exciting emerging UK talent on display.