I’ve no idea why, but for some reason I believed Mallory Knox to be a metal band. Perhaps it was the name, taken from Juliette Lewis psychotic character from movie Natural Born Killers. When I went to iTunes and had a run through the previews of Signals I was surprised to find an artist that sounded nothing like I expected them to, though based on the previews I took the plunge and purchased the album right away. Sometimes these gambles can be a bit hit and miss, but thankfully this one has paid off in spades.
Genre wise, they are in actual fact one of the increasingly popular young English bands from a genre I’m considering classifying as “post-emo”. Now before you let out a sigh and close this page down, let me explain that logic. Emo as a genre is a blend of pop punk and indie rock, with expressive and confessional lyrics, yet my problem with it and the reason many a person dismissed it was that bands would normally be too young to have any of the experiences they would lament about in their songs – lost love, failure as a person, life being so tragic and hard. It just seemed a bit false, you know? The reason I call this post-emo is that in sentiment and in lyrical content there’s a lot of similarity, but the players are a little older, the music is less pop-punk and more accomplished than ‘standard’ indie rock, and most importantly, the lyrical content is believable.
Signals is the debut album from the 5 piece who formed in early 2009. It’s a rocking album which has great echoes of bands such as We Are The Ocean, latter day Deaf Havana, and label mates Don Broco, who they are currently supporting on tour. Music is quick and chirpy, with crisp production leaving no instrument fighting for supremacy. Lyrics are pretty much what I hinted at in the genre blurb above, with a very good vocal responsible for the delivery. Curiously though, according to the bands own page at label A Wolf At Your Door Records, all five of them are listed as vocals. I’ve no idea of the split in vocal duties, though going by videos I’ve now seen on TV and Youtube, there’s one main man with the rest on support. Assuming this is the same on the album it works very well.
Stand out songs include title track “Signals”, opening track “Beggars”, and third single “Lighthouse” which you can see below. At the time of writing “Lighthouse” is available as the single of the week on iTunes, so I heartily recommend you go grab it. It has a great chorus which you’ll find yourself singing away in the back of your head in hours to come.
There’s a couple of curios on the album. “1949” is a lovely heartfelt song which appears to be about 60 years of marriage. It obviously goes totally against my whinge about experience being key to a convincing vocal, or front man Mikey Chapman uses some amazing moisturiser, but regardless it’s simply a stellar tune. “Bury Your Head” breaks the formula completely and is based almost entirely on piano and vocal. It simplicity is brilliantly effective and is a firm favourite of mine despite it being nothing like the rest of the record.
I like this album. It simply has good songs, is easy to listen to and enjoy without the need for repeated listens to “get it”, and importantly it has great replay value. If “post-emo” sticks as a label, I’m totally claiming it and will happily fill my iPod with this sort of thing.