The Liverpool quartet’s debut does exactly what it needs to do in putting them on the map to success
Arriving in a fanfare of hype, Liverpool quartet The Mysterines’ debut album Reeling is the culmination of a reputation being built steadily from a significant live presence, BBC Radio airplay and support slots for the likes of Royal Blood and Seagirls. Most of the attention grabbing has been from lead singer Lia Metcalfe, with her strong vocal being noticeably commanding – and that’s just as well, for this band produce sounds recalling grunge, garage rock and much else amid their diverse offer.
Catherine Marks (Wolf Alice, PJ Harvey) produced the album and this feels key; becoming more of a friend to the band than just someone of considerable reputation working with ‘performers’, Marks has established a rapport that leaves the band members feeling comfortable enough in what they are doing to sound like a far more experienced four-piece than they actually are.
The first side of the band is displayed on opener Life’s A Bitch (But I Like It So Much) as raucously punky, growling guitars offer a menacing start. Metcalfe bemoans the perception of things always being her fault: “Don’t hold it all against my name,” she cries. More complaints then arise in one of many singles, Hung Up, as she appears to tell of unrequited feelings through lyrics like “always leave me hanging on” and “holding onto nothing”. Here, though, you also get the most explicit example of her vocal style that sees her continually ‘sink’ her words as they trail off. At first it doesn’t stand out, but once you notice it, you hear it throughout the record. It’s less grating than slightly distracting.
When the band turn down the angst and power they appear a different beast altogether, and this is their most impressive guise, striking the balance nicely between their heavier and lighter sides that we also see later on. The title track is one such effort – a considerable highlight – as is the grungy Dangerous, and when they let the guitars kick out a more melodic presence, things get even better. On The Run is far less in-yer-face, with the chorus possibly the best on the record, whilst a similar cut, All These Things, again focuses more on melody before delivering another strong chorus.
The aforementioned lighter side rears its head on several occasions, providing something completely different. Acoustic based Still Call You Home is something of a curveball, as is the minimalist Under Your Skin, where Montague does her best to cope with some lower notes. Closer The Confession Song is different again as focus shifts to atmospherics. Pace switching The Bad Thing is another major highlight as the band twist again, this time into a darker side alongside some wah-wah guitar as lyrics ask: “Who in their right mind would do the shit you’re asking?”
Reeling firmly puts The Mysterines on the map. It may not be a debut as eye-catching as, say, My Love Is Cool (Wolf Alice) or Silence Yourself (Savages) but it does what it needs to do, which is to introduce you to a band you want to hear more of. There is some slight identity confusion cast by the eclecticism of the collection – it could appeal to fans of several genres in different places but not necessarily as a whole – but Reeling is undoubtedly a solid step on a road to a successful career, and one that will find this band honing in on both its desired path as well as strengths that will become clearer as time goes by.