Following up his impressive and thoroughly enjoyable debut album King Of You, UK one man pop punk/power pop protagonist Gaz Patterson returns with Dodging Bullets, an eleven track romp to light up ears. Bred from the same stock as its successor but showing a new strength of maturity amongst the riot of hooks and cast of melodic temptation, the new release pushes the already strong emergence of the man up numerous notches.
Hailing from Bedlington in Northumberland, Patterson again keeps within existing boundaries with Dodging Bullets. As with the last album, songs hold a familiarity which ensures they make friends long before their hearts are fully spilled. Once more it is hard to avoid making comparisons to modern Green Day and Blink 182, but at times there is a strong Ramones seeding to songs which offers a vibrant and anthemic lure. As the first album, Dodging Bullets is not without a few things which need honing, but for richly pleasing, feet grabbing pop infused punk songs, it fills all needs.
The release opens with Into The Sun and a sparkling of keys swiftly joined by hefty swipes of guitar and rhythms. It is a potent start which takes little time before settling into a wide gaited stride of thumping beats and enticing riffs speared by a similarly alluring tidy hook. The track is an anthemic beast, guitars and bass sculpting a frame for imagination and emotions to latch onto whilst the punctuation of drum swipes just intensifies the bait on offer. It is not a majorly dramatic start or song but one which hits the sweet spot persistently, especially with the tempting melodic enterprise streaming with variation from Patterson’s guitar. With the man providing every aspect of the album, it is easy to see and eagerly appreciate his skills and talent, as well as his ability to write ridiculously catchy songs.
The first track does offer the first hint of the only element which off and on just misses the mark though, the vocals. It is not Patterson’s lead attack, that only recruiting ears and attention with ease but the production around his voice which leads to questions, it bringing a hollow resonance to the delivery which does not fit easily in the arms of the sounds. It is a niggle more than an issue but something may be worth thinking about as is the additional backing vocals and harmonies behind the man which are a little hit and miss across the album and often do not need to be there such the power of his lead. Nevertheless it does not stop the opener from lighting an appetite for the album into which the following Devil Girl sparks a wave of greed. The track is a gem, vocals and riffs immediately rubbing invitingly on ears before the song bursts into a boisterous rampage. Guitars and drums lead the way with an irresistible revelry whilst the bass adds a throaty depth to the mix but it is when keys suddenly rein things in for a brief melodic breath that the songwriting of Patterson shows its growing confidence and potency.
Both Bitter Sweet and Hold On keep things rocking, the first pulling on the reins of urgency compared to the last song but still cantering with keen endeavour and tempting riffs aligned to infectious hooks whilst the second adds a caress of acoustic guitar to a key sculpted melodic swagger with appealing touches of discord. Neither matches the strength and pull of the first pair of songs but easily bind ears in an appealing and imaginative hold before the might of the title track takes over. Thrusting a flame of hard core inspired rock ‘n’ roll into power pop contagion, the track makes a gripping start with a strong coaxing which only increases as guitars slip into intriguing grooves and melodic twists whilst rhythms emerge with an unpredictable nature to make the song an enthralling and fascinating charge.
The acoustic balladry at the core of the next up Barely Believe is a decent proposition but lacks the spark of other songs, though the strings bring a great evocative croon to the song, whilst Nothing Sacred from a blaze of riffs and sonic suasion shapes another anthem of searing melodies and barbed hooks to snare thoughts and emotions. The drums roam around with agitated enterprise whilst the bass for arguably the first time finds the growl and potency which graced the first album. The vocal production does the song no favours it has to be said but cannot prevent it igniting passions with its storm of stirring sounds and impressive musicianship. As so many of the songs it is like meeting an old buddy, familiar and unsurprising but very, very welcome.
Our Movie is another which just misses heights set, but again it is that production element which defuses its sinewed driven stroll of addictive hooks and enticing riffs aligned to exhausting incendiary rhythms; a mix in a different less intensive guise which marks out the next in line, Too Far From The Truth. Featuring excellent guest backing vocals from Sam Gibson and a great sultry twang to the melodic persuasion of the guitar, the song is a striking and increasingly virulent slice of potent pop rock. Of all the songs on the album, it is the one which from a strong start just seems to get better and linger longer; simply a vivacious song to heat up the summer.
The album closes with firstly the senses cradling Promises Into Yesterday with its emotive weave of acoustic guitar and shadowed basslines within a heated web of guitar passion and synth expression, and lastly We Are We Are. The closer is the anthem of the album, vocals immediately filling ears and imagination before a gentle but energetic shuffle of devilish rhythms, roving basslines, and melodic toxicity combine for a richly pleasing conclusion.
Dodging Bullets probably does not realise all of the potential found in Patterson’s first album but certainly it brings a potent evolution of plenty that was offered there whilst adding further exciting twists and promise to the mix. For imaginative but enjoyably undemanding pop punk, Patterson and his album is a recommended romp.
Dodging Bullets is out on the 1st July.
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