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Posted July 17, 2008 by Mike Mineo in Features
 
 

Late of the Pier

Though nowadays the majority of younger students seem to value how loud a song is as opposed to its actual melodic aptitude, it was often difficult for me to take bands in high school seriously. Even if one happened to show glimpses of potential, they ended up either botching their skills completely or splitting when their 4 years of high school were completed. It would be foolish to blame them though, as the majority of these artists do not reach a notable degree of individualistic creativity until their days of basic schooling are over and they are able to write listenable songs on their own instead of attempting generic covers or tedious originals (with the latter being at least more admirable). It is rare to find a group of musicians who are actually dedicated and mature enough to transform a high school project into something that could positively impact their adult life, making Late of the Pier something of a prodigious breakthrough in a sense. Whereas it would be admirable for a presently accomplished band to merely meet and initially collaborate during their high school days, Late of the Pier have been sticking strong with their unique stylistic flair ever since the days when P.E. was mandatory.

Formed in 2004 when not one member was over the age of 17, Late of the Pier were quick in generating local buzz by performing all-ages shows around their native Castle Donington, a somewhat small village in Leicestershire. After all, I imagine that some of the members had little choice if they wanted to invite some of their friends. At the time, their music was heavily dominated by punk-rock roots, with their trademark integration of electronica and synth-pop steadily integrating itself as the four-piece gained momentum throughout the years. I have heard the term “new-rave” tossed around describing new British bands with an emphasis on electronica and punk-rock, but to stick Late of the Pier in a rather desperate classification like that is an injustice. While they are far from the most uncovered act I have featured lately, the hype that they have generated has been more through their songs than the image they create. I have personally found bands in the vein of Klaxons and The Rapture to be overly intent on exposing an excitable style, periodically causing the songwriting to be lacking in venerable qualities. An ideology of style over substance can indeed be harmful, but Late of the Pier have emerged as one of the few that appear more focused on the music they produce.

Like any young band rising through the ranks, Late of the Pier have escalated through several labels as their level of fame has increased. They began with WayOutWest Records with the release of their debut single, “Space and the Woods”, in 2005. They released their second single, “Bathroom Gurgle”, 6 months later after singing to Moshi Moshi Records. For their widely anticipated full-length debut, Fantasy Black Channel, Parlophone Records will be the label when it is released on August 11th (7/22 in the UK). The most striking aspect of Fantasy Black Channel upon one’s first listen is the punch of excitement packed into each and every track, all done in a meticulously dissimilar manner. “Heartbeat”, the newest single of an album full of potential ones, capitalizes on this feeling of exhilaration by immediately introducing a series of hectically paced synth chords as they become further supplemented by a varying degree of rhythmic embellishments and guitar-led flairs. “It’s just a line!” lead vocalist Samuel Eastgate excitedly proclaims, increasing his level of intensity as the numerous layers of synths and guitars complement clever musings about the apparent visualization of an electrocardiogram. Concluded by a fast guitar solo, it should be a track that garners an ample amount of radio airplay due to its concisely infectious nature, if it hasn’t already.

“Space and the Woods” has been a fan favorite ever since its release as a single in March 2007. While it still contains the thrill displayed on highly energetic tracks like “Heartbeat” and “Whitesnake”, the melodic construction is more placidly paced, consequently resulting in a something that provides just the right amount of diversity to an album where vigor is a prime attribute. That is not to call “Space and the Woods” a ballad by any means though, as the chorus alone could advise you alone with its slick guitar progression and throbbing bass line that it is one of the more captivating tracks on a very strong album. Like several tracks on Fantasy Black Channel, it is rounded out by a guitar solo whose fast tempo sounds crisply placed in accordance to Eastgate’s preceding yelps. If I were to guess what the next single on Fantasy Black Channel will be, I would have to go for “Broken”. Apart from the guitar work being noticeably dazzling for the genre at hand, it is a great example of both Eastgate’s skills as an ardent vocalist and the fantastic work from producer Erol Alkan. For an even better example of his vocal chops, check out the haunting falsetto on the catchy “Bathroom Gurgle”. Fantasy Black Channel is an album chock full of potential radio favorites and Late of the Pier themselves may very well end up being one of the most successful British bands of 2008.

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Late of the Pier – Broken

[audio:http://mineorecords.com/mp3/lotp-bro.mp3]

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Late of the Pier – Heartbeat

[audio:http://mineorecords.com/mp3/lotp-hea.mp3]

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Late of the Pier – Space and the Woods

[audio:http://mineorecords.com/mp3/lotp-spa.mp3]

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Mike Mineo

 
I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound. I used to write for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine. Send your music to [email protected].