By Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)
Burying their way into your skin without a moment’s hesitation with an infectious song is a feat many bands aspire to but very few manage to achieve. That’s not to say that acts who fail to do so are bad, more that the challenge of getting someone to put a song of yours on loop is increasingly more difficult in the digital age, especially when you’re a small act who have only recently just started having a stab at the whole “making music” thing.
So when first chucking Atlas Run‘s debut EP Depths on for a spin, you might find yourself happily surprised by how quickly you’ll find yourself listening to opening single Chasing The Storm on repeat – there’s that catchy pop appeal meshed with an indie rock sound not unlike something Foals would conduct on Total Life Forever, an album that bears an uncanny resemblance to that of Depths with its aquatic theme. The hook is simple and effective, allowing listeners both old and new to find themselves intrigued by twangy Scottish vocals followed up by some seductive, sonic guitars in the succeeding verses. It’s very much the track that any band would sell their soul to bash out at live shows and Atlas Run make a smart move by making this the first taste from the EP.
Starting off a record with your strongest track, whether it be an extended play or full length release, can be seen as shooting as yourself in the foot and while this may hold true even with Depths, it doesn’t mean that what comes after is sub-par by any stretch. Open Water faces the task of following up this catchy opening track and does a fairly solid job of it with synths packing this almost Hot Fuss-esque sound, making you wonder if the band had knicked a Nord Lead 2X from Brandon Flowers and co. The comparison between drinking and drowning isn’t inherently original but the way the sound submerges the listener gives it that extra layer, leading you to believe that the band are at the very least observant with their work.
Rose may initially fool you at first with what sounds like an acoustic ballad, a cliche too many acts are still falling into, but it eventually metamorphoses into this decent wee love song with some pounding backing instrumentals that help the band to regain the energy and force that make them nice to listen to. Then there’s In My Defence which is probably the closest the band comes to channelling an alt-rock sound with washed out guitars and an almost glitchy production providing a taste of something different though it never gets to spread its wings.
With all said and done, Atlas Run‘s challenge of standing out in a genre that is so popular, especially in the Scottish music scene, is certainly a gargantuan one. Even if it seems that they haven’t completed it perfectly, they sure as hell show the makings of a band who aren’t just following the footsteps of those before them – they’re just as ready to start their own path on the sand, no matter the difficulty.