By White Belt Yellow Tag
There's something very 'Comfort in Sound'-era Feeder about the earnest sentiment and melodic indie-rock of White Belt Yellow Tag's debut full length, 'Methods.'
This band have a real talent for taking the anthemic indie-rock blueprint and injecting it with a healthy dose of alt-rock (primarily in the shape of echoes, lilting falsetto vocals and military drum-rattles) without compromising on the glutinous epicness of it all.
Album highlight is the glossed holler of previous single 'Always and Echoes,' a track that has the immediate appeal of the bona fide indie anthem. And that comforting, I've-heard-this-somewhere-before deja-vu continues with 'Tell All Your Friends (It All Worked Out).'
'Tell All Your Friends...' boasts a sit-up-and-pay-full-attention intro, as beautifully sombre piano and lamenting vocals effortlessly evolve into a brooding rumble. The rest of the song serves up enough of Justin Lockey's swooning high notes and dark, reverberating vocal lows, to keep the listener hooked. In Lockey, White Belt Yellow Tag have a vocalist who can take a good song, and make it that little bit more special. Whenever he cracks out those high notes, White Belt Yellow Tag are onto a winner.
Another ingenious feature that reoccurs throughout 'Methods,' is the echo, which is added to both the vocals and the music. 'You're Not Invincible' is a tower of soaring guitars, big vocals and starry atmospherics, with frequent forays into a static-soaked swirl, where ghostly backing vocals blur and tumble around one another. Meanwhile, in 'Same Clothes, Same Life' it's the music that's wreathed in echoes. This vast, echoing tide of guitars will squeeze through your speakers (somehow) and stretch to the four corners of the room. After a steady start, it builds to the obligatory, show-stopping high where every hint of space is quickly crammed full of yet more echoes.
After a rocky start where it seems White Belt Yellow Tag are about to go all electro on us, 'So Try My Enemies' pulls it back with - surprise, surprise - big, indie-anthem guitars and boatloads of echoes. 'So Try My Enemies' is the first song where White Belt Yellow Tag put some oooomph into the drums, dolling out a steady, explosive beat that sets this song apart from the other eleven big-guitars-and-echoes tracks.
Vigorous drumbeats also put an edge on the serrated, slide guitar-packed 'News.' The riffs grind back and forth, dragging skeins of fuzzy "whoa-oh-oh!" vocals along for the ride. It's a welcome break from the gorgeous, but samey, guitars-and-echoes formula. However, White Belt Yellow Tag seem a little too enamoured with what they have created - a piece of music without a sky-scraping riff or an echo in sight - and mix far too many instrumental passages into 'News.' What could have been a punchy, spiny track, loses some of its power.
As you might have already gathered, White Belt Yellow Tag have found a formula that works, and are more than content to stick to it. The starry sounds that moved you during track one and track two, will leave you increasingly cold as this album progresses. 'It's a Long Way Down, Don't You Fall Behind' and 'Where Echoes Land...' fall foul of this.
Lockey's way with the falsetto ensures 'It's a Long Way Down, Don't You Fall Behind' hooks you in with the opening notes, before losing you with its directionless meandering down various beautiful, languid musical avenues. 'Ode' rigidly adheres to the White Belt Yellow Tag formula (echoes, check; epic guitars, check; hooky falsetto, check) before briefly redeeming itself with a closing three-hundred-and-sixty degree spin of guitars, spiked with bone-chilling piano notes.
'Where Echoes Land...' follows suit, with an opening half of mind-numbingly repetitive vocal lines and a looped clatter and clunk of pianos and drums, and a second half that unleashes waves of dramatic indie-rock balladry. Like 'Ode,' this is an uninspiring song, with an inspiring ending. Combine the best bits of 'Ode,' 'Where Echoes Land...' and 'It's a Long Way Down, Don't You Fall Behind,' and you just might have a song up to White Belt Yellow Tag's usual standard.
'We All Have Sound' has the dubious honour of being the only 'Methods' song that patently doesn't work. The damp squelch of the drums, harsh guitars and dreamy vocals jar unpleasantly against one another. You're much better off sticking to the Rhysmix Vs Wahs remix from the 'Always and Echoes' EP.
White Belt Yellow Tag do expire on a high with album-closer 'Careless Talk and Sinking Ships,' a song that takes all the best features of the atypical echo-and-guitars White Belt Yellow Tag anthem, and mixes it up with plenty of grating riffs. It may be a little late in the game, but at least White Belt Yellow Tag seem to have finally cottoned onto the fact that one big, beautiful, sky-scraping indie-rock ballad after another, does become tiresome.
'Methods' is as enjoyable and instantaneous, as it is frustrating. Expect to fall in love with the first half of this album, and find your interest wavering during the second half. This is a music box packed with glittering indie-rock gems but, after a while, you get tired of the shininess. A beautiful, heartfelt anthem-fest that's best experienced in bite-size chunks.