The journey of UK rock band States of Emotion and indeed debut album Black & White To Gold has been fraught with obstacles and disappointments, but it is fair to say that it has been well worth the fight and determination. Centred around vocalist/guitarist Olly Hookings and bassist Bonzai, States of Emotion has finally stepped into the fullest spotlights with a debut album which is destined to be one of the most tantalising and increasingly magnetic propositions this year.
The first days of States of Emotion go back to 2001 with Essex hailing school friends, Hookings, Bonzai, and drummer Luke Lloyd linking up to play “bad Green Day covers in the summer house at the bottom of Olly’s grandmother’s garden.” Within eight years, the band was playing the likes of the Great Escape Festival, Offset Festival, and Glastonbury’s Introducing Stage. It was at this point they also began recording their debut album with producer Greg Haver with their self released debut single, The Unsung stirring up eager appetites with its outing in 2010.Its success saw the band deciding to sign with urban label Rinse but though a successful tour with The Enemy followed there was little else apart from a half-hearted promotion of next single The Way That I’m Wired by the band’s label. With much frustration to the band, the album was of seemingly little interest to their label and with that lack of action and support highlighted by the “half-baked single release that wasn’t marketed properly”, they decided to walk away from Rinse.
This was followed by Lloyd and fourth member Brick leaving the band, and the premature announcement of the end of States of Emotion. Thankfully Hookings and Bonzai then decided to carry on working on the album, writing new tracks, often sparked by the past issues and departures, to go with those already nurtured. This in time led to the pair creating their own Label White Room, through which after five or so years, Black & White To Gold finally gets its unveiling.
With the Rag n Bone Men EP offering a tasty teaser of the album a few weeks back, anticipation for the release was heightened and is quickly rewarded by outstanding opener I Broke The Mould. Straight away guitar brewed drama envelopes ears; a potent lure of dark bass led shadows and vocal expression from Hookings which only blossom further as melodies and anthemic tenacity bursts in the irresistible chorus. With keys caressing the imagination in alignment to tangy hooks from Hookings, the track smoulders and sizzles on ears and appetite with a prowess and majesty which reminds of bands like Doves and The Mighty Lemon Drops, the latter a regular thought across the album, especially in the following Lena.
The second track has a brighter climate and warmer melodic breath with matching rhythmic enterprise whilst bass and guitar again unite their contrasting tones and textures. In tandem it all makes for a catchy canvas for the excellent vocals of the band to dance upon with emotive flirtation. Feet and hips are as quickly enamoured as ears with the encounter, a persuasion easily matched by the album’s moodier title track. With Bonzai’s bass a rumbling incitement against the interlocking melodic intimacy and orchestral character of the song, it is a fiery serenade tightening the album’s early grip on ears.
Through the romancing sonic flights of Inside Out and Brooksys Box, the album continues to hold the listener close to its creative breast, the first an evocative swirl of melodic resourcefulness and its successor a celestially laced yet robust slice of balladry. Both carry a deliciously dark vein enriched by infectious basslines and openly anthemic fuel and each is increasingly impressive and highly alluring, as too in its more personal way Back to Back, where piano and vocals steal attention before Seeking Oblivion engagingly wraps ears in its guitar driven electronic seducing.
The album at this point is in a magnetic flow, each song like an inventive continuation and emotionally related follow on from its predecessor. The band raises the ante again with Rag & Bone Men though, the track a bold and boisterous adventure which saunters in with electronic beats and siren like keys around the melancholic but inviting coaxing of Hookings’ voice. All the time a low key but building virulence is at work, brewing and enhancing the swing of the song until it releases a chorus with the persuasive mastery any hypnotist would be proud of. The song is glorious, equipped with little twists and dramatic hooks that just pull the imagination deeper into its galvanic temptation.
Slowly has a Coldplay like scent to its calm but suggestive embrace next whilst Into The Dream Catcher uncages a melody rich rock ‘n’ roll stroll which as all the pinnacles on the album, draw emotional reflections and gentle tempting into an energetic and subsequently anthemic roar which is pure contagion and insistently memorable. It is an elegant flame of a song with the right amount of intensity to create an even feistier stir.
The final pair ensures Black & White To Gold ends on the kind of high it started on. She Cuts Shapes is first, casting rhythmically infectious bait within an equally zealous rock pop roar which again shows the band’s skill at creating a landscape of ebbing and flowing energy which in turn breeds gripping crescendos. Its superb revelry is instantly matched by the slower melancholic beauty of My South Drive. Possibly the most contagious track on the album with its welcome trespass of melodic and harmonic seducing, it provides the album with a last major triumph and the listener with a song which simply lingers.
Black & White To Gold may have had to bide it’s time to introduce itself but it needs little time to announce States of Emotion as a band no one with a melodic heart will want to ignore.
Black & White To Gold is out now via Label White Room @ http://labelwhiteroom.bigcartel.com/product/states-of-emotion-black-white-to-gold-signed-cd-album-pre-order
Upcoming States Of Emotion Dates:
Wed 24th Feb – BRISTOL Thekla w/ The Rifles
Thu 25th Feb – PORTSMOUTH Wedgewood Rooms w/ The Rifles
Sat 27th Feb – LONDON Roundhouse w/ The Rifles
Pete RingMaster 22/02/2016
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
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