Smile Empty Soul – Shapeshifter

smile empty soul shapeshifter album photo_RingMasterReview

April 1st sees the release of a new Smile Empty Soul EP; a release revealing some new encounters and also returning songs feeding the wants of fans. Released in 2003, the Californian rock band’s self-titled debut album is now unobtainable, tied up in “red tape” these past years much to the disappointment of an increasing number wanting to have their own copy. With persistent enquiries about it coming their way, the LA trio were inspired to re-record their three biggest singles from the album and combine them with a similar number of brand new tracks for the Shapeshifter EP which is accompanied by a DVD that includes a music video, a short documentary style film from the making of the EP, and a behind-the-scenes video covering years of touring, studio sessions, music video shoots, and more.

With six albums under their belt, the Smile Empty Soul sound is an established proposition and fair to say Shapeshifter offers no major surprises but the new songs have the freshness and tenacity expected by any offerings from the band whilst the re-worked other songs are simply rousing treats never too hard to enjoy however they are dressed.

All in My Head is the first track on the EP, slipping in on a reserved step with a gentle melody holding court before the recognisable tones of vocalist/guitarist Sean Danielsen and a net of restrained rhythms. It is a suggestive slow stroll which momentarily erupts into an impassioned and sonically fiery flame around the darkly lit lure of Ryan Martin’s bass. The pattern is set for the rest of the track even as its air and energy becomes more volatile as a Sick Puppies like agitation hits voice and sound.

art_RingMasterReviewA great start continues as Running out of Something takes over, it too making a less than imposing entrance but building into a feisty and dramatic proposal as the forceful beats of Jake Kimer collude with rawer sonic rapacity. What seems like electronic beats alongside the drummer’s inventive swings does irritate a touch but cannot defuse the overall roar and creative potency of a song as familiar as it is freshly inventive.

Kimer has ears and appetite on board within seconds of his opening anthemic rally as Just One Place takes attention in hand next; a potent initial coaxing which continues to incite as guitars and vocals cast their expressive energy and enterprise around another pulsating bassline. As its predecessors, the track is as contagious and compelling as it is emotively dramatic, and as the other pair, reveals great signs for things to come from the band ahead.

New tracks completed, that threesome of well-known and spirit rousing singles from the band’s acclaimed first album step forward to thickly please and satisfy, Silhouettes leading the way with Nowhere Kids and Bottom of a Bottle in close attention. As one also not having a copy of their debut, memory suggests the band has not strayed far from the originals but with richer textures and arguably keener creative energy involved, the first seems to have new tension to its character and the second rawer attitude whilst Bottom of a Bottle simply stirs body, emotions, and imagination as virulently as it always does.

Shapeshifter is a release which makes no major demands and uncages no real surprises but leaves no one short of thick enjoyment and a re-ignited eager appetite for the Smile Empty Soul adventure. With that DVD in tow too, the EP is destined to be one greedily devoured proposition.

The Shapeshifter EP is available April 1st via Pavement Entertainment.

Pete Ringmaster 01/04/2016

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Categories: EP, Music

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