Straight Lines – ‘Freaks Like Us’ Album Review

Straight Lines’ based in Pontypridd, Wales have proven their worth on the live circuit – supporting big names like Kids In Glass Houses, The Automatic and InMe – in addition to providing support for Motorhead at the London Hammersmith Apollo, Yet they wrote, produced, mixed and mastered their debut 12 track album ‘Persistence In This Game’ before they even played one live show.

They have now released their second album ‘Freaks Like Us’ -on Xtra Mile records.

We took a listen, and here’s what we thought:

Title track ‘Freaks Like Us’ features a series of corrosive guitar lines … some rumbling, some screaming in agonised entreaty – the vaulting vocals create an epiphany of striking splendor epitomized by Tom’s generous full-on tirade. An enormous  revelation.

‘Commitments’ has a juicy chorus. This song briskly jogs along, crisp guitar and restrained percussion help to create a perfect pop-rock confection. Nestled between the sheets is a surprising and generously danceable centre-parting. Clever!

‘Half Gone’ with the rattling sensation of the most glorious drumming you will witness this year – courtesy of Dane – is a terrific track. But it is those splendidly melodic vocals that will grab you and never release you. And once captured, you will be teased by the elastic guitars that twang and growl – like a tiger caught in a garter belt. What a frolic!

‘Ring The Bells’ is a cheerful glide through the city. It ‘s like pinching a ride on the back of a hay-wagon …  and dancing all the way to the sun. Cheerfully jolly tinkle-tinkle guitars skylark daintily about, and the ‘Ring the bells – the boys are coming…’ chorus will fill your heart.

‘Empty Chest’ has a great riff and is saturated with unleashed power and golden glory. It’s one of our favourites. Be prepared to lose yourself to this one. Groaning, deeply dark guitars paint some gloomy scenes and the sonic textures, though complex, never distract from the focus on melody.

Rocking track ‘The Dealers Hand’ is an imp that jumps up and squeezes you hard on the bum. Punky vocals rat-a-tat out – and these a garnished by some feverishly tight guitar lines. As always, for a Straight Lines number,  the melodic nature of the song shines through. But there is a special magic in those agile guitars and growling tom-tom beats.

‘So Many Paths’ has a propulsive drum crescendo to start things off. The guitars are edgy, gutsy and courageous. They are strong-armed into position by impeccable musicianship. Then the guitars and percussion are yanked to one side by those heartfelt vocal gymnastics. After the parenthesis in the third quarter,  the finale is a sweating foray into the best vocal expressionism you will have heard this summer.

You can see Straight Lines live on Sunday on the Main Stage at REDFEST at 3pm.

– © Neil_Mach July 2012 –


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