As regular readers know I have a penchant for the unorthodox so I’m actually going to start this review off by giving a shout out to the team over at Sugar House Music. They do loads of work for unsigned bands and artists, basically from my side of the table I know that if I get sent something which is connected to Sugar House in some way it’s going to be quality.
I mention this not only because I feel that those guys work should be highlighted but also because they did the production on this record, the brand new one from Tourist Attractions. I reviewed their debut EP just over a year ago and I was really impressed with it. It was like a throwback to that early 2000’s Indie sound and personally it was great fun for me to review, it was a really, really good record.
They have been away from the airwaves for a little while but they are now back with a brand new EP called React Reflect React and stylistically the progression of the band’s sound in those 13 months or so is quite astonishing. We were given a preview to this new sound when the band put out single The Fear back in October; it was far more atmospheric, subtle and thoughtful than anything that the band had released before. Incidentally that track is featured on this EP and feels right at home.
The EP gets started with the track which was for all intents and purposes the lead single from the project Black & Gold. This track pretty much sums up what the band’s new sound is all about. For large parts everything sparser and more atmospheric and the vocal is kind of distant. It’s a hard thing to pin down the track and the EP as a whole sounds like a less rocky Arctic Monkeys. The vocal delivery especially is very Alex Turner and while the production doesn’t have the rocky rawness of an Arctic Monkey’s record you can’t help but feel like the music is cut from a very similar cloth. I love the sparse guitar solo which emerges around 2/3rds of the way through and it contrasts with the quick galloping drumbeat really nicely.
Having said all of that it is on Stories where comparisons with a certain Sheffield based band start to come true. The fuzzy, gritty rawness of this track is awesome and just draws me in like a secondary school leaver being drawn towards Frosty Jack. The melodies from 2014’s Dusk have been shuffled slightly to one side for a heavier more imposing sound. This track just sounds so thick! The drums don’t skip they thud and the guitar sounds as dirty as last night’s drunken takeaway. I’m not sure about the bridge which leads into the chorus as it seems too harsh and stunts the flow of the track a little bit but other than that little wobble I’m all over this track.
I’ve already mentioned penultimate track The Fear and it still sounds as good now as it did last October. The fuzzy guitars are replaced by something a whole lot more atmospheric and spacious. If the previous track made you feel like all of your senses were being manipulated at once this track gives you far more room to breathe. It’s a lot lighter and kind of washes over you rather than attacks you. The swirling vocals and airy production make this track a winner.
Final tune Faded Away is probably closest style wise to the band’s previous material and is almost a bridge between the old and the new. Personally I’d make this track a single; its unwavering positivity would undoubtedly sound great on your radio as well as giving the casual listener that feel good feeling. The guitar work is great and acts as a brilliant foil for the vocal while the rhythm sections keeps everything ticking along. I really think that this could be the band’s breakout track. It’s a great way to finish.
Personally I’m a big fan of the way that the band has progressed from the first EP as well as being a fan of this record as a whole. I think that they may still be in the process of nailing down ‘their’ sound but it all feels very natural, it sounds like they are just going wherever the music takes them and I love that. As a listener you can tell when things sound forced. I think this EP only shows a fraction of what this band are capable of, I mean they can do everything from straight Indie to more atmospheric stuff to edgier tracks like Stories, I honestly believe that the sky is the limit.
There are very few bands where I like pretty much everything that they do but Tourist Attractions are one of those few. React Reflect React isn’t completely flawless but it really isn’t far away. This record might have a different feel and a different sound but make no mistake that this is the same band which impressed me so much a year ago. There could be a lot more to come from these boys but for now let me finish by saying that React Reflect React is one mighty fine record.
React Reflect React is out now