The fledgling Birmingham three-piece, Shapes, combines hardcore, math-rock, alt-punk, prog-rock and just about anything else this side of heavy you can imagine. The result? Unfortunately, for the most part, an absolute mess of mismatched vocals and random instrumentation. Fans of this act will undoubtedly argue that this is in fact the point, and that anyone who believes otherwise “doesn’t understand” the music. However, for those that don’t like to have to read a manual before listening to an album, the debut, ‘Monotony Chic’, won’t be for you and will remain confined to the more pretentious of appreciators.
‘Siren Song’ begins with a rather edgy guitar shred that quickly takes a turn for the worse as, somewhat prescribed by the progressive rule book, a sudden change in tempos observes the introduction of Steven Bachelor‘s lead vocals. A depressing and dreary affair, Bachelor finds himself stuck somewhere between the sassy Daryl Palumbo of heavy-influencers Glassjaw, the shamefully terrible Matthew Bellamy of Muse and the shrieking barks of Rolo Tomassi. The vocal harmonies can be enjoyable, especially considering the style of music, but the confusing path through which the song travels drags on and builds up to a chaotic explosion of noise which ultimately hits a dead end.
Tracks like ‘The Victim’ and ‘Allure A Hore’ are indistinguishable from one-another, while ‘Enola’ continues to echo the discerning yelps of the previous disappointments. The anti-melodic riffs might well be intentional, but are exasperatingly conceited and it is baffling that anyone could plug in their headphones on a sunny day and embark on anything other than a murderous rampage with this diabolical racket in their ears. The following five tracks are nothing more than carbon copies of their predecessors, the only discernible feature being the shake-up of intros, for example the sharp and menacing bass opening of ‘Syncope (Muzzle)’.
There is a growing habit within the British alternative music scene to jump too hastily to the praise of young home-grown bands. There’s no doubt that British bands need all the support they can get, already dwarfed in comparison to the talent that our much bigger Atlantic-descendants have been turning out of late. However, in order to prove that we’re equally capable of matching this competition, British listeners and critics alike must be more choosey when it comes to which bands they champion. Regrettably, Shapes isn’t one of them, and ‘Monotony Chic’ provides little argument to the contrary.
Written by Ramsey Marwan