Whenever I get sent a record that mentions the word “punk” in any way, I assume I’m going to hate it. Not because punk music is bad or because I don’t get it, but becuase the era that I grew up in was such a down time for the genre that I am constantly reminded of it. When I was a teenager, the big “punk” bands were Good Charlotte and Blink-182. Music I hated, but people ate it up like yellow potato salad at a picnic (this simile assumes that everyone loves yellow potato salad as much as I do). So now every time I get a record that claims to be “punk” all I can think is “Great. Another Alien Ant Farm record.” It’s completely unfair, I know. But that’s where I am with punk music.
When I got Sharks record sent to me by someone that I’ve worked with a number of times, I gave it a chance based on my relationship with him. It’s a good thing I did, because No Gods may be the best album out of the UK all year. And for the record, I do give other punk records a shot sometimes-like last year I really like The Wonder Years album. Last week I ran a interview with Sharks singer/songwriter James Mattock, where he said that he didn’t like the label of “punk” or “post-punk,” and that he’d be fine if everyone called them a pop band. He isn’t too far off with the statement. The band is as heavy on melody as they are on loud guitars.
One thing that impressed me was Sharks ability to avoid the pitfalls many British bands fall victim to on their first outing. I don’t know how many bands I’ve heard over the last couple years that all sound exactly the same. Or if not exactly the same, you can pick out whole sections of songs and say, “Oh, they stole that part from Graham Coxon.” Or “Oh, I liked this song better when it was called ‘Seconds’.” They do well to keep everything sounding original, save for the lead single “Arcane Effigies,” which reminds me equally of The Fratellis and The Darkness.
For a first album, the band did a great job of creating a tracklist that flows nicely. The first four tracks, “Til The Wonders Rise” through “On A Clear Day You Can See Yourself” could stand up to the best of them as far as kicking off a record. No Gods does suffer a bit of a downward trend after that initial kick, but when the songs are that good, there isn’t really anywhere else to go. I commented during my interview that the song “Able Moving Hearts” really captured the feel of Sharks, giving a listener a great idea of who they are and what they’re about. After the first few spins, it was definitely my favorite track. Some ten listens later, I think “On A Clear Day…” is the better tune. It’s catchy as hell and has a nice bluesy feel that sets it apart from the rest of the album.
Everyone brings their A-game, musically. Though no one really gets a lot of spotlight time, you can tell that everyone performing is passionate about the songs and gives it their all. Andrew Bayliss and Mattock really delivers on guitar, while Sam Lister pounds the kit. Tony Corrales goes a bit unnoticed on bass, buried beneath the cymbals and shredding. His best work comes toward the end of the album on “Luck.”
If you read this site daily, or even weekly, you already know I added this album to my top ten. It is rare that an album of this genre finds its way to any list I make, regardless of how early in the year we are. If you picked up The Vaccines record last year on my recommendation, I suggest the same with this. No Gods is a very good record that promises a bright future for Sharks.