When you’ve been compared by some of the nation’s biggest music press to the likes of Foo Fighters and Muse (who have been known to challenge planets in terms of scope) and the somewhat asteroid-sized Feeder, a certain level of expectation will necessarily build up with regard to follow-ups. The above-mentioned bands have all built strong careers in managing to balance steel and melody with success (though relevant in the case of this statement, Muse only deserve a quick mention early on since their prog and wide-reaching experimentations are never truly hinted at by the band under review).
Opening track ‘Falling’ proves a telling example of this particular brand of sonic compromise. Superficially, the Kent quattuor veer towards an emphatic heavy sound with riffs that some would be right to compare to Muse’s own ‘Stockholm Syndrome’. Yet the powerhouse energy suggested is undercut by their unrelenting commitment to keeping things melodic. No wonder mixing the two is something of an artistic chemistry few can pull off, the vibe of the track feels stretched between the opposing forces.
Single ‘Always Tomorrow’ hits a better balance, echoing some of Lostprophets’ achievements. Still melodic to a fault, the hopeful spine of their emotionally-oriented song allows for a big chorus and a handful of rousing moments. There’s less of the sense that Tin Soldiers are fighting for a credible heaviness and give in to more conventional, and therefore reassuringly successful, pop-rock.
‘Army Of One’ is another step back, this time spear-headed by the use of a grittier crunch, and more prominent bass, to achieve the illusion of an authentic rawness. Unfortunately, the high level polish just heightens the facticity of the process. Closing track ‘Take Back The Streets’ goes for an emphatically angsty approach with a revolutionary-of-sorts chorus that, in reality, is very much a harmless bit of pop.
Tin Soldiers seem to have difficulty defining their identity within the polarized characteristics of the pop-rock spectrum. Successfully marrying steel and melody takes a lot of craft, whereas the Kent boys’ EP seems to be trying too hard to weave the two together. ‘Falling’, ‘Army Of One’ and ‘Take Back The Streets’ all lack coherence, but then I guess there’s ‘Always Tomorrow’.
‘Army Of One’ EP by Tin Soldiers is available now on Broken Star Media.
Words by James Berclaz-Lewis (@swissbearclaw)