On paper, The Shapers should work well enough. New, vibrant alt-rock bands with clear poppy sensibilities are often welcomed with open arms, but on their new EP ‘Reckless Youth’, there’s something about this French trio that just doesn’t click.
And that something is the vocals. Instead of the usual attempt at a faux-American brogue, frontman Anthony’s vocals see his native French accent bleed into them, and while this may seem a harsh aspect to criticise, they become so grating and borderline unlistenable, especially on the god-awful token folk number ‘No Regrets’.
It’s not so bad on the EP’s front half where there’s actually something in the music to become invested in. ‘Can’t Forget’ is a decent, if slightly unimaginative pop-rock track, while ‘Another Chance’ manages to evoke Zebrahead and early Boys Like Girls in its punchy riffs.
It’s in the final three of these six tracks where the EP really suffers. As well as the aforementioned ‘No Regrets’, there’s ‘Another Chance’, an instrumental track that utilises flamenco-style string-picking and serves no discernible purpose whatsoever, and ‘Youth Disaster’, which picks things up again, but is too messy and cluttered to really get behind.
It all makes ‘Reckless Youth’ such a frustrating listen. At their best, The Shapers show a naïve promise that could blossom into something solid. But considering only three of these six tracks really only hit this mark, there’s still quite a bit of work that needs to be done here. As it stands, ‘Reckless Youth’ is just about passable, but is capable of a lot more.
‘Reckless Youth’ by The Shapers is released on February 26th.
Words by Luke Nuttall (@nuttall_luke)