By The Finest Hour
The bleak landscape of a desolate, rundown town, (this time Grimsby) again proves to be the perfect setting for a young, gritty, northern, working class-esque indie-rock outfit. The Finest Hour are just that: a predictable addition to the lad-rock genre.
'Battle Scars' starts all so promisingly: simple, dark swirling guitars, a driving bass line and itchy chords are all layered on top of propulsive drums that mark the track with the raw energy of the E Street Band and even, dare I say it, The Jam.
Then all of a sudden the track falters, introducing wavering vocals, which have so little depth or soul to them, they feel almost wooden. The sentiment of the introspective, brooding, wistful lyrics is lost amongst it all; the narrator dwells on a past relationship ("I sit and recount all the things you said") but there seems to be so little emotional connection to the lyrics, that is seems almost contrived. The chorus consciously aims towards the epic with its festival-like chant: "bring me heartbreak, bring me failure, bring me glorious defeat," but diminishes under its ethereal and weak two-part harmonies.
In many ways, B-Side 'Keep Up Your Chin, Kid' is just an acoustic take on 'Battle Scars.' The narrator's still reflecting on the remnants of a past relationship, but whereas the latter effectively employed downbeat guitars and rigorous drums, the B-Side instead replaces these with fast-paced, chimy acoustic guitars, a sharp, upbeat melody and sporadic tapping on the old guitar. It comes across two-dimensional and even insincere, and whilst it clocks in at just under five minutes, it's also an arduous task listening to it.
To emulate the blues rock of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is clearly their ultimate aspiration; with 'Battle Scars,' they haven't quite reached that height though. And with their traditional, restrictive four-piece line-up, you can't help but think that they'll struggle to make much of an impression in an already saturated lad-rock market.