The Fly Review 'Basic Nature'
By Patrick Hinton
(Tough Love Records)
Calories blazed onto our musical radar in March 2009 with their hard-hitting debut album ‘Adventuring’. Laden with frenzied, distorted guitars and distinguished vocal performances, the album showcased the new wave of indie acts presenting their much heavier side. Their new album, ‘Basic Nature’, sees the trio discovering new areas of their sound, whilst also sticking to the ramshackle resonance they’ve already honed so well. Patrick Hinton’s track-by-track below tells all...
"Basic Nature 1"
This lo-fi 30 second instrumental is a brilliant, raucous start, reminiscent of a Serialist piece from the 20th Century. A spiky drum loop crashes into prominence with a heavily distorted guitar line revolving around it. this intro sets up for the frantic noise and pace that features heavily throughout the rest of the album.
"You Can Be Honest"
Aha! Fear not fans of, previous the Calories album, ‘Adventuring’, this second track ‘You Can Be Honest’ is much more like the band we’re used to. A single hit of a snare drum acts as a sharp introduction and bridge between the previous stray into the new area heard on ‘Basic Nature 1’ and the return back to the familiar Calories sound. A swerving, rock riff provides the base of 'You Can Be Honest' throughout, with the catchy vocal hook of “You can be honest with me” forming the chorus.
A forceful opening kicks off ‘FFWD’, an at first reserved guitar riff then suddenly explodes, including the band singing along to it. The rock intro makes its way to a verse comprised of resonating, high pitched wails from the guitars. “The old days were better” is the songs message as a stuttering cascade of high pitched notes guides us into the stomping chorus. A brilliant, circular guitar line, complete with infectious gang vocals over the top, makes this a great choice as the next single to be taken from ‘Basic Nature’.
Clean strumming opens with a robust bass riff entering the fray soon after, alongside echoing backing vocals adding depth to the verse. The chorus then erupts with fraught guitars and singer and guitarist John Biggs divulging “I got your call back”. The guitars then drop away to expose a quiet, more contemplative “I got your letters”. Ultimately a hushed tapping of the drums and the guitar chords, growing ever quieter, drift away to leave a short sample of singing birds to end it all.
With an acoustic guitar as the only accompaniment; this is the most subdued track so far. A serene commencement swells into a beautiful, brooding song; characterized by the soft but compelling emotive tone of the vocals. Enchanting.
Wow, so whatever placidity was left over from ‘The Offer’ is shattered instantly as the punch of the drums that begin ‘Habitations’ barge in. The main theme of this song is the curving melody, noise surges into the verse and chords drive through the chorus oppressively. This abates momentarily for the start of the next verse, but the guitar fanfare floods back soon enough, remaining until the end where everything drops out to unveil a shimmering drone.
"Endlessly In Light"
“You were wrong / You were all wrong” is the proclamation at the start of ‘Endlessly In Light’. A strummed guitar loop of chords and a rippling hi-hat prevails throughout most of the song. These disappear at the very end where the track comes full circle, the first lyric being repeated; which then leads onto four separate guitar and drum crashes.
"Basic Nature 2"
Don’t be lulled into a sense of security; Calories next hit us with ‘Basic Nature 2’. This second instrumental is less intense than the first, but much more haunting with eerie chimes emerging from the depths of the muffled motif. An ominous laugh and whoop penetrate the murky atmosphere before sinking away again, leaving the song with a wall of reverberating fuzz and climactic cymbal crashes.
A verse of palm muted chords leads into a chorus broadcasting “We’re not incendiary / We are the Mortal Boys”. After the second chorus the pace picks up with Biggs announcing “I can’t escape your heart”. The falsetto backing, in the same style heard on the title track of debut album ‘Adventuring’, contrasts excellently with the low pitched lead vocals.
The soaring guitar line, reminiscent of the guitar arcs that lead much of fellow Brummies Johnny Foreigner's first album appear here. A prominent drum beat and distinctive vocal style start this track in a wonderful fashion. “We’re not even” is the declaration leading the chorus with ascending guitar notes swirling after it. The style changes in the second verse where the accompaniment is an extremely scuzzy riff, similar to those heard in ‘Airbag’ styled Radiohead. The end of the song fades away with an oscillating cymbal crash.
"Let's Pretend That We're Older"
Sustained chords make way; revealing a flowing angular guitar riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on a more math-rock focused album. This continues until the pierce of feedback releases the much heavier chorus with the shouted vocal refrain, “Let's Pretend That We're Older” before the familiar grungy chord crashes descend.
Another acoustic track appears, but ‘Altitude Sickness’ is more upbeat this time. The usual rugged vocal style is gone, exposing a melodious croon of “There’s peace at this altitude / There’s peace at this altitude that I’m in”. It speaks volumes about the diversity of sound Calories are capable of creating and pulling off.
A 7-minute Calories song! Whoever expected that to happen amongst this rapid barrage of rip-roaring tunes? 'The Brink' begins with a strong and bending guitar line leading into a slower vocal lead verse. The true change in sound is apparent in the mid section, which features a torrent of atonal feedback squeaks popping haphazardly into both ears. In truth, it jars a little and the eventual crescendo is underwhelming. Yet the lyric “We’re on the brink of something big” rings true and it’s an exciting direction for Calories to be taking.
"The New X"
Much like the album opener, the album closer is extremely lo-fi, with the same vocal and drum style bands like Times New Viking have come to be associated with. The same lyrics and motifs repeat all the way through until it comes to an abrupt, but appropriate, end.
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