By Lost Calm
The debut EP from Salford five-piece Lost Calm gets the balance right between choruses that are big and brash enough to fill arenas, and the sharp, emotional edge that makes all that noise feel personal to you.
EP opener 'Clocks Scream' sets out its 'aspiring stadium rock' stall early on, with an introduction of beautifully moody guitar-plucking, and hypnotically undulating vocals from frontman Wayne Welch. When his voice veers suddenly into those big, ballad highs, drenched in echoing backing vocals, it's guaranteed to give you the shivers. And then, in a move that's been pulled a million times before but never gets old, in sweep the crashing guitars, drum rolls and "whooooa, ooooooh" backing vocals. You can easily imagine this racket smashing through an arena-sized speaker stack.
The chorus is where Lost Calm introduce us to their winning, stadium ballad formula. Churning out a storm of guitars and thumping drumbeats, shot through with a sharp, heart string-bothering riff, Lost Calm deliver both the big, stadium ballad sound, and the emotionally-charged hook, giving this arena-sized racket a poignant edge. The perfect antidote to all those soulless, paint-by-numbers, arena-rock songs.
Where 'Clocks Scream' goes wrong, is relying too heavily on the chorus. Together with a few instrumental passages and an extended bridge section, it makes up roughly ninety percent of the song. There aren't enough quieter, more lyrically-driven sections, to make 'Clocks Scream' feel like a fully-formed tearjerker. It makes all the right noises, but, in the end, there aren't enough words to back it up.
'Kill The Light' continues Lost Calm's apparent mission to be crowned kings of the intro, easing us in with some light, mournful guitars, before dragging in a storm of churning bass and foot-stamping drums. However, 'Kill The Light' is sprinkled with sharply-plucked chords, which turn it into big, brash, glittering stadium rock that makes a clear play for the heartstrings.
This time Lost Calm do offer some variation, in the form of sassy, drum-led verses, which keeps the spangly-edged choruses feeling like an emotional sucker punch, and less like more of the same. The only problem, is that Welch isn't the world's strongest vocalist, and his vocals are occasionally lost in 'Kill The Light's rowdier moments.
'Suicide Soul' is, thankfully, not a dodgy emo song, but another skyscraper of sound, and another intro that'll have you desperate to hear the rest of the song. The time, the introduction shows a more angular and innovatively catchy side to Lost Calm, as deep, glugging drumbeats rumble along to a stop-start rhythm that'll have you twitching along. Lost Calm seem to know when they're onto a winner, and those hitching drum-flourishes also form the base of the equally catchy verses.
The combination of pared-down, drum-led verses and blustering stadium rock choruses, is a formula that works for Lost Calm. However, in this instance, 'Suicide Soul' is lacking that all-important lamenting riff at the centre of the chorus' squall, meaning that is one Lost Calm song that's more about making noise, than moving the listener.
This three track EP is particularly promising, as it puts forward a winning formula of stormy verses that have, at their heart, one guitar line designed to wrench at your heart strings; and quirky, drum-led verses. While none of these songs have what it takes to become your next favourite tearjerker, you can imagine Lost Calm putting out something that's genuinely moving, if they carry on like this.