For the Berkshire belters, the ‘Year Of The Jackal’ has been one of their most turbulent and challenging yet. As if it wasn’t bad enough their label went bust and collapsed their management under the financial strain before their 2013 EP ‘Hard Truths’, frontman Alex Green suffered ill health and a resulting heart attack at the devastating age of 27. Consequently, self-released ‘Year Of The Jackal’ has been a labour of unconditional love and testament to the paramount importance of their music to a quartet of young guys with successful lives ahead of them.
Bursting with harmonious energy, confident opener ‘Crooked Teeth’ exposes deception with a contagious hook and captivating wails. “Is it really worth the lies you’re telling to yourself?” cries the confrontational ‘Coins’, punching its aggression through every lashing second. Graphic and contemplative, ‘Hangnail’ remarks, “like a hangnail torn from me, if you tear it, it will only bleed, but if you leave it, it will only break free”, a prime example of their lyrical genius, while the reactionary and relatable ‘You’ll Never Learn’ contrasts seductive whispers with a beautifully contemplative riff.
“Can you see the hurt that we’re hiding so well?” asks frontman Alex Green through ‘Hangnail’, driven by reflective guitars and an unrivalled emotive passion as the band’s reality proves the ideal muse, while the solemn opening of ‘Tell Me’ draws a rock-pop hybrid anthem of being pushed to the brink by the pressure. Evidently scarred by their experiences of late, Attention Thieves have no intention of yielding.
While the captivating instrumental ‘Sleepyear’ proves Attention Thieves’ versatility, phenomenal drums and heartfelt screams herald ‘If You’re Not With Us’. “They’ve got you on your knees,” warns the cautionary tale ‘Culture Of Fear’, projecting venomous cries of a lesson learned from bitter experience. “There’s nowhere to go, nowhere to hide” spits ‘The Jackal’, combining the towering strength of Alex’s cries with voluminous gang vocals. A poignant voicebox for an internal struggle, album closer ‘Actors Cast As Heroes’ depicts a bid to escape from your own mind which, however successful it may be, cannot go unheard.
Every second of ‘Year Of The Jackal’ encapsulates the band’s battles against the odds with a tenacity and energy rarely seen nowadays. Determined in their aims to bring this turbulent episode of their career to a satisfactory close, Attention Thieves have exhibited their mastery in their strongest studio outing yet.
’Year Of The Jackal’ by Attention Thieves is out now.
Words by Ali Cooper (@AliZombie_)