From the very first sound of the distorted and gritty guitar tones in opening track Over You, it is clear the experience of Funeral Shakes‘ members has combined to form a beautiful thing. The punchy bass/guitar octave riffs throughout the song, backing up frontman Calvin Roffey’s (The Smoking Hearts) Anglicised vocals. The crunchy verse leads that take over the right side of the mix creates a manic feel as Roffey tries to convince the subject of his emotions that he is indeed “over you”. Second track The Motions sounds like a hybrid between Moose Blood and Basement; the lead vocals and lyrics are reminiscent of the former’s frontman while the full band sound is more reminiscent of the latter. The guitar tones are full of attack and shimmer with effects, especially with the reverb, delay and modulation on the lead guitar in the solo. The backing vocals absolutely pack out any tiny shred of space left by the instruments for a huge sound that will rival any punks on the scene today.
Howl and Bon Voyage provide a more middle-of-the-road rock feel, with the backing vocals pulling together to give an emotive, full sound that is more radio-playable than others on the track. Drummer Lee Barratt’s (Gallows) tom-heavy tracking shines through especially in these tracks, but the guitar work of Em Foster (Nervus) and Simon Barker (The Smoking Hearts) backs up the love-sick, heartbroken lyrics being spat in fury from Roffey’s mouth.
The jewel in the crown of Funeral Shakes‘ debut is not one of those already mentioned though – that title is reserved for the furious, fast-paced anthem that is Circles. Sitting in the fifth slot on the record, the sheer pace and aggression in the hardcore-influenced verses provides a pit-worthy level of punch and grit before soaring into the “ooo”-heavy chorus. By itself, the song demonstrates all of the abilities of the band in one: the punk speeds and sloppiness, the tight vocal harmonies, the engineering know-how and the pure individuality of the band combining the aspects immaculately in such measure. A notable mention has to go to a song at the opposite end of the spectrum too though – namely closing track You’re So Bad. This tune draws heavily from surf rock influences with a lot of reverb and a fuzzy, warm distortion across the guitar sounds throughout the soft and swinging lament to end the album strongly.
Overall, a stunning debut from Funeral Shakes that rivals the work of the members’ other projects very very strongly. A triumphant first effort from a band who could have gone either way with the level of ambition behind them – fortunately the gamble has paid off. If this record is anything to go by, Funeral Shakes could cement their position as one of the most promising supergroups of the decade pretty quickly.