Outlining their credentials..
The Outlines are really going from strength to strength this year so far, and have released their second album Bones Bones Bones to underline this quite emphatically. Whenever I try to write about how they sound it seems to somehow do them a disservice, a three piece grungy punk band, packed with power chords, chugging bass and drums, never-quite-gratuitous feedback and guitar solo work – they’re getting really rather comfortable in their own skin after a pretty solid start with their first album.
Much like their first self-titled release, this is a frenetic and mostly breakneck-paced affair – it’s done and dusted in half an hour and ten tracks. It kicks in with Waiting, a guitar riff is quickly joined by drums and bass and then Kyle’s distinctive sneering-yet-tuneful vocals – there’s clever pace changes and moments where the instrumentation drops out completely to let the vocals hold sway before coming back with a vengeance – the middle-eight does sound like they’re shouting ‘Pazazz!’ though which makes me chuckle. A strong start, fading out with feedback and leading straight into…
… Static, rapid drums and chugging guitar and bass kick into a proper headbangable track – it reminds me of my mate’s band Red Jester (who really ought to get back on the gigging circuit!). A proper whirlwind tour, it’s over in a smidge over two minutes of mayhem. She Don’t Know has a more ponderous guitar intro with percussion and bass more gently added – before the song kicks in properly, some intricate lyric work before the backing vocals of the song title hypnotically take over before the verse kicks in again, it’s a catchy bugger – I was merrily singing along to the chorus of this the first time I heard it live!
Concrete starts vocal-led with instrumental stings to accompany, kicking in and lyrically giving the album it’s title – pace changes but never lacking intensity, this might be my pick of the tracks on the album – it builds you up, gives you a slow bit before finally chucking you into the frenetic chorus. Buried a Lie in my mind is always the ‘na na na na’ song – which if you’re in a silly mood you can substitute with a Muppets style ‘ma na ma na!’ – but I digress – chugging power chords, then the pace really kicks in just after a minute with great use of layers of vocals from all three of ’em. Sometimes it’s hard to believe there’s really only three of them producing such a huge sound.
Calm Down is one of a few reprises from the first album – tightened up, it’s relentless – again with layers of backing vocals filling out the already surprisingly full soundscape made from just a guitar, bass guitar and drum kit. Then comes the surprise, almost heeding their own advice in the previous song, sounding like it’s playing on an old gramophone and just Kyle with guitar drops a dramatic change of pace – a ponderous bluesy track in Devil Come Take Me – I was convinced this must be a cover, but having googled the lyrics I don’t think it is! After the almost clock-chime-like it leads straight into the next track.
Wailing feedback and a sinister bass riff eventually kicks into Panic, right back on the earlier theme – power chords build to a crescendo before dropping out for more feedback to accompany the opening vocals. Like most of the songs, the verse structures are imaginative and feel quite fluid and unregimented, but it’s all knitted neatly together by the chorus riff and simple chorus refrain. A ponderous instrumental breaks that cycle – with breathing noises overlaying the drums and bass which start to fade out before the wail of guitar feedback loops the chorus riff back in for the finish.
The final two tracks are both revisited from the first album – and it’s understandable, they are probably the strongest tracks on there – and with new found technique and confidence you can totally get the urge to revisit them. Streets of England is first with a gentle guitar intro that soon gives way to power chords – it’s pretty anthemic, it was before – now cleaned up and tighter whilst losing none of the bite, it’s awesome. Finally Sound of Rain brings the album to a close – a gentle start with guitar and vocals soon leads in to what now is a characteristic Outlines track, a much more ponderous start than before – a great way to finish up.
It feels like the last year and a bit of teeth-cutting has really done wonders for The Outlines – they’ve developed a very distinctive sound, it sounds like it should be inaccessible when I write about it, but it really isn’t – sure there’s noise and a hell of a lot of energy, but there’s craft and tunefulness in here too – they describe themselves as punk but there’s definite grunge influences in here, but Kyle’s voice brings both melody and the ability to shout too. The best bit is they carry this sound off flawlessly live too – definitely ones to watch out for over the course of the year.