In a year where rock has apparently been pronounced ‘dead’ given how it’s fallen out of favour in the mainstream it’s now left to the new generation of bands to fly the flag. What’s more, the new wave is a harder and more aggressive one; Pulled Apart By Horses and Hawk Eyes (the artist formerly known as Chickenhawk) are some examples of this. Like their contemporaries, Young Legionnaire have fine-tuned their sound on the road for many months before recording an LP. After many months of touring in vans, the trio are finally releasing their debut, Crisis Works.
The omens before listening are good. Richard Jackson, the same man who helped Future Of The Left achieve their loud and brash style, is on production duties and two members already have notable track records; guitarist and vocalist Paul Mullen was part of the much-loved yourcodenameis:milo whilst Gordon Moakes is the bassist of the arguably much-more-loved Bloc Party. Drummer Dean Pearson completes the line-up.
The basis of all 12 tracks lean a lot closer to Mullen’s former day job than Moakes’ but crunching guitar chords are balanced with the looping and frenzied basslines very well. In fact, the trio altogether sound like a powerful unit and the raw nature of their live shows have really translated well into an enjoyable forty-five minutes.
Proceedings start with immediate riffing and thudding drums via Twin Victory. As starts go it’s an exhilarating one and the momentum continues for the whole album. The easy trap for them to fall into is to repeat themselves over and over again but there is a good mix of songs that feel free to rock out and ones that have a bit more of an accessible melody to them. Falling into the latter category include Numbers and These Arms whilst Black Lions is in the former camp thanks to an all-out frenetic outro.
With talk of Bloc Party possibly returning to the studio much later in the year, it would feel like a real shame for Young Legionnaire to be put on the back burner. On the basis of Crisis Works, here lies a band who have made an impressive debut and potentially have a prosperous path ahead of them. It’s even enough to make you wish that Kele Okereke and company decide to hold off their comeback for a bit longer. This is a very heavy listen but with enough subtle dynamic changes to keep it interesting and fresh and proof that there is still plenty of life left in a genre that will, at some point or another, burst into life.