Swiftly showing a fresh maturity and adventure to their sound, the new Smoke Signals EP from UK alternative rockers A Mouth Full Of Matches, leaves no doubt that this is a band truly finding its creative feet. The four track release bulges with thick melodies and intriguing hooks, providing ears and imagination with a warm and persistently impressing landscape of evocative textures and adventures. It is a riveting encounter from start to finish and though it is possibly a few sparks short of the blaze it could have been, the EP is a stirring and rigorously captivating proposition from a band on the rise.
Formed in 2012, A Mouth Full Of Matches, the name taken from a piece by spoken word poet Anis Mojgani called Milos, took little time in drawing attention with their sound, live presence, and debut EP, Tasting Fire. The Manchester quintet’s first release was well-received and potently opened up the potential and invention of the band’s songwriting and sound, a promise skilfully realised by Smoke Signals whilst providing suggestions there is still plenty more within the band to be explored. Recorded with producer Matt Hyde (Bullet for my Valentine, Slipknot, Machine Head, Funeral For A Friend), and following the band’s success in making it to the final Red Bull selection of 15 bands vying to play Download Festival, Smoke Signals is a potent statement in luring a greater spotlight upon the band.
The release opens with a sultry and gentle caress as first track Danger High glides into view. It is an atmospheric start embracing the imagination but just the gateway into punchy beats from drummer Steven Hall and a weave of raw riffs and sonic enterprise cast by guitarists Mark Holden and Jane Hebenton, the latter’s twin Helen providing dark portentous shadows with her brooding basslines to the mix. It is a masterfully magnetic entrance to song and release, which as it grows and brews in intensity, continues the charm offensive through the excellent mellow tones of Tom Buxton. Finally settling into a firm and contagious stride, as guitars and vocals spread evocative and harmony soaked expression respectively, the song almost growls in creative contentment and melodic temptation. It is an enthralling encounter which just gains in strength and depth over time.
The following One By One matches rugged riffery and imposing rhythms with more seductive melodies and vocal elegance. It works from a similar template to its predecessor but in its individual way builds a wall of lingering persuasion, which again over time shows inventive twists and avenues within its tantalising scenery. The rhythmic bones of the track are big and its melodic skin tight, creating an anthemic potency which is inescapable. The song, as maybe the EP, is missing a snarl or two to wrong-foot or intimidate ears and thoughts, but with the impressive design and skills of the guitars aligned to soaring vocals deeply flavoursome, the track easily makes the strongest engagement.
Wait For Me attempts to find a grizzled call initially, though it is tempered by keys which continually help enflame each song in varied ways, before slipping into an emotionally flamed flight of pungent melodies and vocal warmth veined by sinew driven rhythmic tenacity. It is a transfixing track which sits somewhere between Deftones and 30 Seconds To Mars, with the bordering on orchestral strength of keys finding seeds in the likes of an Evanescence or Flyleaf. Though not the most accessible song of the release, it is its most gripping in imagination and exploration, the band on a new plateau for invention.
Smoke Signals is closed by Young Blood, another track which suggests it is an explosion in the making but remains within an appealing restraint, swapping ferocity for spicily tanged short grooves and crystaline keys amidst guitar sculpted melodies. Once more individual flair combines for a lively smouldering of emotive colour and sonic expression, resulting in an engrossing melodic adventure.
The track sums up the strength of the EP, and also its only miniscule want, that of the previously mentioned aggression or snarl to draw a more distinct line between the overall sounds of songs. Nevertheless Smoke Signals is a tasty and bewitching encounter marking another big step in the emergence of A Mouth Full Of Matches, a band heading in the right direction with the prospect of major horizons in their own hands.
The Smoke Signals EP is available now @ http://amouthfullofmatches.bandcamp.com/
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