Back in May last year I reviewed Shallowend's first release "The Waterfall" EP and at the time made the point about the difficulty I faced in being objective in reviewing a band where I new one of the members quite well. Yet for some reason our estute editor has deemed it a good idea for me to go through this reviewing torment again. So with a totally objective hand on heart, here I go again.
The first and most noticeable thing about Shallowend's progress is the recording quality which it has to be said has improved dramatically since I last heard them. This two song release, as I was told by lead singer and guitarist Mike was a much troubled affair and was originally intended to be three songs right up until the third was scrapped in the studio. I also know of Shallowend's continuing quest to find a more permanent drummer, a pain most bands will experience at some point in their careers and one which offers as much stability as the Titanic.
What it feels like listening to this CD is that someone forgot to put the single on the front of two b-sides. Shallowend have mastered the idea of keeping their songs short and to point, neither track breaking the four minute mark but there is a noticeable lack of dynamics. As I have mentioned the recording quality has improved dramatically but the use of the studio is an art that still seems to be missing, a flat drum sound, a sickly synth and one dimensional guitar effect leave little to be desired. Certainly an introduction of the occasional pause or change in sound would help a lot in distinguishing verses from chorus and adding the necessary memorable moments.
There are a number of plus points though, Mike's voice comes across much stronger and with a lot more depth. The introduction of a brass section on track 2 'Tigers' is a pleasant surprise and one that works well with the bands sweet indie guitar sound. You can't help feel that like so many others, Shallowend have a lot of the right ingredients (an ear for melody and solid musicianship), but with a few missing (studio production, song structure). By finding the right combination the best is definitely yet to come from Shallowend. Previous release "The Waterfall" EP may have been poorly produced but it had a vibrancy and pace that at times made it really fresh. A band with this much promise will produce the goods sooner or later and then they definitely will be shining brighter.