It is hard to supress a roar of frustration and disappointment when after enjoying a new and thrilling encounter from a band with all the tools and sounds to be a major presence in British alternative rock, they announce ‘on the eve’ of its unveiling they are to be no more. That is what has happened with Bristol quartet Oh Captive. Just a couple or so weeks before new EP Two Mirrors is released to light up ears and appetites, the band announced it had called it a day, though it might emerge to be more an internal evolution resulting in a name change and new direction rather than a full departure. Time will tell but whatever the outcome, they leave behind two impressive releases and a collection of vibrant and inventive songs, their latest the most captivating yet.
Formed in 2012, Oh Captive swiftly lit their local music scene and subsequently set about the whole UK scene with their energetic live presence, playing with the likes of Sonic Boom Six, UK Subs, Straight Lines, Max Raptor, Sharks, Blitz Kids, I Divide, Fighting With Wire, and Scholars along the way. Their sound has drawn comparisons to the likes of Biffy Clyro and Twin Atlantic, open and potent spices in the band’s debut EP Advance Creature, which was released in the March of 2013. It was a stirring and dynamic offering rippling with a potential which has been realised with sizeable success within Two Mirrors. The past year has seen Oh Captive supporting the likes of Marmozets and Arcane Roots, and make highly successful appearances at festivals such as Leopalooza and New Age, whilst media attention has grown as potently too. Now it may be over, but if so the band has gone out with a bang and ensured attention for their next exploits will be eagerly attentive.
Two Mirrors opens with Recover, an instant ear grabbing proposition as vocalist Tim Kelly and a tangy rub of guitar combine a minimalistic but highly tempting bait to bring the song into view. It is not long before the heavy throated bassline of Tom Hitchins and the punchy beats of drummer Chris Hill leap in, accompanied by sonic flames cast by the guitars of Curtis King and Kelly. Immediately there is a drama to song and sound, light and dark textures colluding in an imposing but inviting web. Settling down a little for the continuation of the narrative from Kelly, the song increases its lure as it builds to energetic crescendos and an anthemic chorus. There are no major surprises in the melody soaked track but there is a bold invention to match its gait, which leaves expectations and predictability absent protagonists in the outstanding encounter.
The impressive start is backed with similar strength by Motion / No Motion. The second song is a rhythmically raucous stomp from its first breath with Hitchins offering a magnetic lure of a bassline. It is a dark coaxing surrounded by the concussive stick ability of Hill, a thick drawing of attention never wavering even as they are immersed in the sonic and melodic blaze of the guitars and the ever impressing tones of Kelly. There is something missing compared to its predecessor though, a small element just stopping it drawing the lustier satisfaction bred by Recover, but nevertheless the song has feet and imagination leaping in tandem with its resourceful enterprise.
Live Fast Don’t Last explores more of a croon for its creative shape and emotive intensity next. It has a slower flow and a more immersive canvas than the last songs with melodic tenacity and evocative expression from the vocals providing a deeper reflective colour and emotion to the encounter. It smoulders and tempts pleasingly as it shows another side and depth to the band’s songwriting and its creative realisation, though again cannot quite emulate the success of the first track and indeed its successor.
The EP’s title track brings it all to a lively and impressive close. Two Mirrors bounds along with another invitingly dark bassline aligned to eagerly swung beats, whilst their union is drenched in an anthemic energy and charm which the band seems to conjure at ease. Veined by richly enticing and tenacious guitar craft, the song makes a pungent end to a fine and enthralling release. If this is to be the end of Oh Captive, song and EP has seen them go out on a high and will leave fans saddened and newcomers kicking themselves for not discovering their promise and quality before.
The Two Mirrors EP is available from March 23rd through all digital outlets.
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