Music Reviews
War Waves

War Waves War Waves

(Backwater Records) Rating - 7/10

Have you ever tried to write a melody? Really sit down, give it your full time and attention and create a good, memorable one? Unless you’ve got the gift, it’s near impossible. You just end up cobbling together ridiculously facile or thinking you’ve struck gold only to find you’ve inadvertently recycled something by Michael Jackson.

The melody-writing process is the closest music gets to alchemy, yet it’s often criminally undervalued. Pop songs that sell millions of copies worldwide and endure on radio stations for years are sneered at for their catchiness and simplicity, the detractors seemingly unaware of the skill that goes into this craft.

Which brings us onto the eponymous debut album from rock foursome War Waves. This isn’t to say that the ten tracks that make up this record will persist throughout the generations and pick up a handful of Ivor Novellos, but they certainly do demonstrate an acumen and dexterity that will always be welcomed.

Chief songwriter Marc Newby still smarts from the loss of his significant other, and actually formed War Waves as part of a concerted effort to win her back. Upon learning this information, the pieces all begin to fall into place. The sweetness of the effortless melodies is undercut by raw vocals and confessional lyrics which portray a man trying to hold it together yet occasionally letting his uncensored human side spill over. In these instances, War Waves can almost feel like a voyeuristic listen, yet the record is ultimately improved by the lack of restraint.

Musically, War Waves take their cues from the hardcore revival which reached its zenith about a dozen years ago. There are shades of Glassjaw, Thrice and more, in both the brutal self-examination within the lyrics, and the walls of guitar and percussion that the band build up around Newby’s vocals. Whilst this style may seem like a throwback initially, the pandemonium that greeted the most recent Brand New tour shows there’s still a lot of love for these big sounds. Besides, tight songwriting will always be in fashion.

Where War Waves does let itself down, however, is the variation and production. At its best, it’s reminiscent of The Colour And The Shape-era Foo Fighters, yet it can start to feel a little homogeneous as the song count racks up, regardless of the strength of the melodies. There’s certainly enough promise in here though to prove that War Waves have earned a second shot and that they’ve a more accomplished album within them.