Ok, I’ll admit it, when I was thrown another pop punk record to review, my enthusiasm wasn’t exactly spilling over – words like cliché, predictable and shit were already forming in my mind. So, although ‘Shelter’ is not exactly the most original record of the week, these four young lads from Stockholm have managed to come up with an interestingly varied record with some extremely likeable tunes.
The dual vocal attack of brothers Jonathan and Daniel Kärn is just one of the plus points, as they mostly manage to swerve the inherent predictability of the genre and put their own stamp on the well-trodden pop punk path. Obviously “that” vocal sound is there, especially on opener ‘Swing by Swing’, but the atmospheric ‘Safe to Say’ is a whole different bag with a deeper lead vocal, brooding guitar lines and a big intense chorus.
Like Torches also have a hard edge to their guitar sound and structure a nice variety of riffs into their songs. ‘Coma’ and ‘Snowfall Without You’ both stand out for their heavy feel, despite the lyrical heartbreak, which is a bit of a running theme; ‘Bit a Bullet’ being in a similar vein, but once again boasting nice riffage.
There is some romantic elements to pretty much every track, but the album offers up a surprising variety of tracks in musical terms. As well as the intense tracks, there is the poppy ‘I Surrender’ and the acoustic closer ‘Shelter’. In addition, ‘Skeletons’ is particularly well arranged, while ‘Full Hearts’ has an air of The Killers’ brand of epic pop to it.
All told, this is an emotionally intense album of well-executed hard-edged tunes. Sure, pop punk is not a genre for throwing up groundbreaking stuff, but it’s nice to hear a band work some variety into such likeable songs.
‘Shelter’ by Like Torches is out now on Rude Records.
Words by Edward Layland (@EdwardLayland)