ALBUM: Sharks – The Joys Of Living 2008-2010

Release Date: April 5th, 2011
Label: Rise Records
Website: None available


It’s ironic that ‘The Joys Of Living 2008-2010’ made me lose the will to live a mere three tracks in. No, no, calm down Sharks enthusiasts. I’m only mucking about. It wasn’t that bad, but ultimately, it wasn’t mind-blowingly brilliant either. This isn’t to say that Sharks are a shite band; there are the occasional moments during the fourteen tracks here where you’ll doff your cap and say “fairplay lads, not bad”. But there’s rarely anything that will make you stand up in disbelief, and marvel at the musical mastery on show.

Opening track ‘Sweet Harness’, with its sing-along chorus, sounds like a lost Brit-pop anthem, and isn’t half-bad. Title track ‘The Joys Of Living’ follows, and again displays some early promise, before things fall apart rapidly in third track, ‘Trains’, singer James Mattock bursting in with his sixty-a-day Benson & Hedges voice, and assaulting your ears like the token pissed guy on the train, funnily enough. If this was an intentional one-off to represent the horrors of public transport headcases then it’d be a stroke of genius. Unfortunately, it dawns on you pretty quickly that this is the voice you’ll be spending the next 40 or so minutes with, and your heart sinks. Now, I’m sure he’s a lovely young lad, but he sounds like he’s turned up for the recording session four hours late after a three-day bender, wearing pretty much the same expression as the skeleton on the front cover, the result of still being off his tits on Meow-Meow or whatever the fuck the kids are taking these days, and inexplicably wearing a ’96/’97 Yeovil Town away top that he got for £2.99 from the local British Heart Foundation shop on the way there, having lost his best ‘going-out’ shirt two days previously.

Things continue in the same vain during the next few tracks; music fairly standard, vocals terribly grating. “I never liked my voice anyway” he barks at me during the chorus of ‘It All Relates’, and I know exactly how he feels. At times during ‘Fallen On Deaf Ears’, I began to wonder if being deaf is actually as bad as it’s made out to be. Oh, stop being such a miserable bastard, you may say. Well okay, I’ll admit that ‘Glove In Hand’ isn’t a complete catastrophe. Mattock‘s voice just about works on this one, and all things considered, it’s not too shabby. A bit more of this, boys, and I wouldn’t be writing such a twatty review.

The introduction to penultimate track, ‘Bury Your Youth’, sounds like the type of clip you’ll hear in the background of an advert for a ‘Brand New Show’ starting on BBC Three, next Thursday at 9:00PM. Probably with a title like ‘Essex’s Youngest Slags’ or something like that. It seems like Sharks are attempting to capture what it is to be young, working class and English during these troubled times. A soundtrack for a generation, like The Clash before them, or more recently The Libertines. In reality, it comes across more as a soundtrack to an ugly pub brawl just after last orders. This may well be cracking for the rock star image, but the consequence is a bit of an ordeal for the listener at times.

But you know, I’m a glass quarter-full kind of guy, so let’s look at the positives; an abundance of sing-along choruses to keep the crowds happy; a handful of half-decent songs as it happens; and above all they have youth on their side, and so plenty of time ahead to grow and develop their sound. Ideally, I’d have a shark-based pun to neatly wrap up this review with, but it’s half two in the morning, and I’ve got to be up at six. Something about Sharks being Reel Big Fish? Oh, I don’t know. It’s too late for all of this.

Written by Matthew Frederick