There’s something to be said for EPs perhaps becoming the primary release format of the future, with all-consuming streaming services and ever-shortening attention spans dominating the way we listen to music. There are clear benefits of regular, succinct output over forty minute albums of filler, and Fort Hope demonstrate their awareness of these with a second EP release in little over eighteen months.
‘Armure’ in fact begins in precisely the same manner as 2015’s self-titled effort – with faint piano. On this occasion it provides an introduction of ‘Say No’’s simple chorus hook, and although the lead single relies too heavily on this melodic idea, it is a convincingly delivered opener. Fort Hope’s most obvious strength lies in John Gaskin’s vocal – his versatile range flits beautifully from soft to soaring, channelling both Josh Franceschi’s earnestness and the technical prowess of Brendon Urie.
Considering two bands that it may be easy to draw comparisons to, Mallory Knox and Don Broco, illustrates where Fort Hope can improve. They haven’t yet achieved the scale or inspiration that the former did from day one, nor are they anywhere near as adventurous as the latter. Yet there are moments on ‘Armure’ that showcase the trio’s true potential. The middle 8 of ‘Give Me That’ explodes into an almightily defiant ‘you and I should be together’, Gaskin again shining. It lights up a track that is otherwise frustratingly mediocre.
There’s nothing on offer here that comes close to the glorious ‘Plans’ from the previous EP. It was a moment that made many sit up and take notice of the group, an impressive and ambitious song. It’s hard to believe that ‘Start Again’, the forgettably dull closer, was penned by the same band.
Three years since formation, perhaps Fort Hope are still soul-searching in a heavily populated world of similar acts trying to do much the same thing. Or perhaps they just need to maintain output and interest – at least until the next ‘Plans’ comes along.
‘Armure’ by Fort Hope is released on December 2nd on Virgin EMI.
Words by Peter Stewart (@PeteStew_)