Like Polyvinyl, Topshelf and Big Scary Monsters, Brighton’s Dog Knights Productions has established itself as a real badge of quality, with fans eagerly awaiting releases when a new band is announced.
Southtowne Lanes may have slipped under the radar a little – especially when put alongside the buzz being created by Simmer and I Love Your Lifestyle – but rest assured, ‘Give Up The Ghost’ is another winner from the South Coast tastemakers.
Combining indie-rock, punk, emo and screamo, Southtowne Lanes (named after the group’s local bowling alley, from which they got thrown out for smuggling in a backpack of beer. The heroes…) have created an interesting, dense and rewarding experience that doesn’t pander to easy wins, but instead wins you over with repeated listens and a little bit of investment.
Despite this, Southtowne Lanes have made it easy for ‘Give Up The Ghost’ to sink its claws in, and there’s plenty of big hooks and huge melodies along the way to tease you along. Take the percussive, juddering end to ‘The Circle’, the pumping, fist-in-the-air vocals on the brilliant ‘Out of the Blue… (Winter)’ or the wonderfully triumphant chorus to ‘The Choir of the Night (Summer)’ . Such moments help you make sense of the chaos – which is handy as ‘Give Up The Ghost’ often feels like it’s teetering on the edge of collapse. In fact, it’s so tense and fraught, it feels like Southtowne Lanes are playing right on the breaking point. It makes for an exciting record and I can only imagine how thrilling it is to witness songs such as ‘And Into The Black’ in the flesh.
A concept of sorts, set over a calendar year and based around reflection and the ghosts of the past, ‘Give Up The Ghost’ is intelligent and downbeat and as stark as the artwork suggests. It’s an album for grey skies and rainy days when you want to just bury your head under a blanket. Yet there’s also a perverse beauty to the noise created by Southtowne Lanes, and you’ll want to pore over the lyric sheets, piecing all the parts of the jigsaw together until you’ve got the full story.
’Give Up The Ghost’ by Southtowne Lanes is out now on Dog Knights Productions.
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)