Made up of members of Catatonia, 21 Against and Eleven, Beyond The Break are Paul Jones (Vocals, guitar) Richard Thomas-James (Guitar) Chris Francis (Bass) and Aled Richards (Drums).
Hailing from Llanelli in South Wales, the foursome only came together at the start of this year but they have wasted no time in getting down to business. They’ve built up a nice live following, got a bucket load of plays of their music on Spotify and signed to London’s 2p Records. And if that wasn’t enough they have also found time to put together their debut EP Pictures Of Losing Sleep which I just happen to have right here. The record was recorded live to tape over the course of two weekends, and well; it’s pretty damn good.
Things kick off with the thick and fuzzy Mother Love. There’s no long and winding intro or slowly easing you in as you’re thrown straight into the action. That fuzz that I just mentioned comes from the guitar work which surrounds you like a blanket of ear drum destroying goodness. If I had to pin the song down I’d say it sounds something like the results of a Biffy Clyro grunge experiment. The track wasn’t an instant hit with me but it definitely improved with every listen and as a result it gets the record off to a really solid start.
Lead single The Way It Was is a cleaner sounding affair, albeit only slightly, and sees the band slide into Foo Fighters mode. Due to the way that the music was recorded it hasn’t got that polish that you would now associate with American legends classic work but it’s still Foos-ish. As a single it’s pretty much spot on, it rocks on at a cracking pace and the chorus is more than solid. The guitar work gives the casual listener plenty to latch on to, and the result of all that is a really good rock track.
Things slow down a little for the title track Pictures Of Losing Sleep which is a bit more of a mid-tempo effort, although that punch which runs through the veins of this band’s music is still very much in evidence. However, the emphasis does switch away from raw, thundering riffs towards the vocal from Jones. It’s a switch that doesn’t find the frontman wanting it must be said. In any event the song takes on a different feel to the rest of the music on the EP and shows that the guys aren’t all blood and thunder and are more than capable of a level of subtlety.
Now, don’t you just love it when a band saves the best until last? Don’t get me wrong the rest of this EP is great but final track Big Wait steals the show. It powers along at breakneck speed with a great old school feel. The opening riff has got a kind of 70’s tint, and while that moment is only brief, it is without doubt a glorious one. The vocal is raw, unadulterated and passion-filled, the guitar work is absolutely stellar and the drums really help give the song that ass kicking edge. In short this song is flat out awesome.
As a whole this is a record which is pretty damn hard to pick fault in. In fact my only minor niggle is that I think that the drums could have done with a bit of a cleaner ‘snap’ to make them harder and sharper. It’s not a big issue, but that’s probably the only very minor criticism I’ve got. (I also understand that there are limits on what you can do recording live onto tape) However, there’s far too much to like about this one to get bogged down in technicalities.
Pictures Of Losing Sleep is a hard hitting, fuzzy, raw, unadulterated banger of a debut. The vocals bring the rawness; the guitars bring the fuzz, the rhythm section hits beautifully hard and the whole thing together is a fantastic whirlwind of rock and roll. And if that doesn’t sell it to you then nothing will.
Pictures Of Losing Sleep is out now.