Straight Lines – Freaks Like Us (2012)

Straight Lines - Freaks Like UsEver since I first heard Straight Lines début Persistence In This Game I’ve been excited to hear more from the band. It’s only been a couple of years, but they’re back already with follow up Freaks Like Us. I’m happy to report that it’s just as great if not better than their first release.

Although the album only sports 10 tracks and clocks in at 36 minutes long, you really won’t mind and as those last few seconds tick away you’ll hope your player is set to repeat so you can experience it all again. Its shortness is rather appealing to me as it just so happens to be roughly the time it takes me to get to work in the morning. If your own journey is longer, never fear; you can always listen to it again!

Truth be told Freaks Like Us not a million miles away from Persistence, and that’s no bad thing at all. Every song is a precisely crafted slice of power pop rock infused with some excellent sing-along choruses. There aren’t any solos or unnecessary widdly bits, just a great 4 piece playing in perfect unison with relentless chirp and bounce throughout regardless of the songs subject matter. What I like about the band’s sound is that although it’s easy to listen to and immediately satisfying, there are lots of odd diversions and sudden changes in most songs that are unexpected, yet always delight.

I’m particularly fond of the drumming throughout the album. It’s sharp and tight, doesn’t overpower any of the other instruments and there are some particularly appealing quick fire rat-a-tat fills. Bass sound is very warm and nicely placed in the mix perfectly complementing the crash of cymbals and the great guitar sound. Layered on top of all this is Tom Jenkins unique vocal. Higher pitched than most artists, it sounds more controlled this time round which I would expect as the band continue to grow. The overall recording of the album sounds better than Persistence did although I will admit I didn’t notice until I went back to it.

Although each track is around the 4 minute mark, they are all delivered at such at such a vigorous pace that it certainly doesn’t feel like it. It’s not until the penultimate track that the tempo slows at all and even then it’s back up to speed for the finale. It’s actually really difficult for me to pick out stand out tracks as the quality is so high. The final 2 tracks are noticeably different without breaking the formula too much and I’d be interested to hear the results of what other experiments in that sound produced, although more as b-sides and EP’s rather than changing the overall band sound.

“Half Gone” and “Commitments”, the two singles released so far, are perfect examples of the band and perfect representations of this album. It’s always assumed that the second album is the difficult one, and when a bands début album is as good as Persistence In This Game was it’s an unenviable task. Straight Lines are a great band, no doubt, and managed to avoid that particular sword of Damocles with what appears to be remarkable ease. Roll on album 3.

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