A rebirth of British post-hardcore?
I saw Spycatcher play a few tracks recently on the Rock Sound Riot tour with Trash Talk, Defeater, and Every Time I Die, and unlike their tour mates, Spycatcher weren’t quite the punishingly heavy metal/punk fusion that would’ve been expected. I suppose their purpose was to promote their debut album, Honesty, to a crowd that they felt might appreciate it. Certainly having seen them perform these tracks live, I have a deeper level of appreciation for the record and I bought it off iTunes.
The album opens with the introductory “Tabs”, which feels like a synth heavy attempt at an atmospheric intro with a lot of conflicting sounds and confusing vocals, which really passed me by. It transitions into one of the singles from the record, “Don’t Like People”, a track that really captures the spirit of the band: disenchanted lyrics, classic punk basslines and a catchy, poppy chorus where the singer announced “If you feel we’re slipping away/It’s not personal/I don’t like people”. A real good track to introduce us to the rest of the album. It’s a really interesting album, sonically – incredibly varied. While some songs have these almost new-wave keyboard sections as the centrepiece to the song (“Honesty” and “Remember Where You Were When Michael Jackson Died”), others are standard pop punk tracks (“Livewire”) and some are just so hard to place a finger on (the 90s post-grungey “Reason To Breathe In”). It’s got a sort of early noughties British Post-hardcore sound; which is always exciting – the sound that gave us Biffy Clyro, Reuben, Million Dead and Hundred Reasons.
The record’s lyrics span genres and could be just as much found in a Spycatcher record as in a Green Day album or a Hundred Reasons album, and the production is solidly on form, almost as though it’s a wetsuit around the band’s sound, snug. Although I do take issue with moments on the record where the vocalist doesn’t seem to know who he is; moving from an English to American accent in one sweep of the tongue, and I don’t have a problem with either, but I would like a bit of consistency. His voice is incredibly versatile and textured, and I think it is suited to the band, but it just bothers me when there are these moments of slight fluctuation. All in all, it’s a skilful first record, clumsily stepping across genre boundaries from time to time, never falling and never failing.