Thursday 24 January 2013

Mallory Knox - Signals

Ever since Radio 1 boss George Ergatoudis claimed that guitar music would make a return in 2013, the station have been playlisting rock bands left right and centre.  Daniel P Carter was given a prime spot during the January New Music Takeover.  And Zane Lowe’s Future Festival was predominantly guitar-based, though admittedly his evening show often has this focus.  But does the public really want more rock music?  Or is the station attempting to dictate our tastes?  Are they just searching for a Lost Prophets replacement ever since singer Ian Watkins was accused of child abuse?

Enter Mallory Knox, the latest band to be championed by the station and who performed at the aforementioned Future Festival.  ‘Signals’ is the Peterborough band’s debut album, featuring current single Lighthouse.  The band are signed to A Wolf At Your Door Records, amongst a plethora of other similar rock acts.  Indeed, this label are responsible for some of the biggest UK bands of the moment – something that Radio 1 are clearly tapping into.  Mallory Knox may not have been around for too long, but they’re kicking up a storm.

The sound of We Are The Ocean is stadium-sized, but it’s the drumming that’s most noteworthy.  There’s powerful drive here, owing to the switching up of drum patterns to provide rhythmic force.  Frontman Mikey Chapman’s voice straddles the line between singing and roaring.  It’s a melodic vocal that is capable of truly soaring when necessary, alongside pop guitar riffs (the opening of Wake Up for example).  Lower Than Atlantis’ songwriting is mostly well done – confident and catchy, with memorable choruses stridently performed.  As a whole, then, You Me At Six have a sound that’s powerful but accessible; likely to whip fans into a frenzy at live gigs, but equally radio-friendly. 

It’s not all thrashing around though.  Twin Atlantic have included some slower, gentler moments on ‘Signals’.  1949 is acoustic-focused, with a nicely reverbed lead guitar and soft vocals; whilst Bury Your Head incorporates a rare use of piano and glockenspiel to accompany the yearning vocal.  It’s a brief moment of respite before Kids In Glass Houses plunge us into the title track and a return to punchy power chords and urgent drumming.

The result is far from a bad album.  But are Mallory Knox original?  Far from it.  There may be a slight lack of guitar bands on the radio, but perhaps that’s because they’re all so indistinct, so staid?  The charts might be flooded with identikit dance-RnB electronic pop (David Guetta and Calvin Harris I’m looking at you), but are these identikit bands any better just because they’re playing ‘live’ instruments?  Perhaps what Radio 1 needs more of is not generic ‘guitar music’ but a flare of originality.


Gizzle’s Choice:
* Lighthouse
* Wake Up
* Hello

Listen: ‘Signals’ is available now.

Watch: Mallory Knox will be supporting Bedford-based band Don Broco on their UK tour in February.