Reading’s The Amazons play it safe on a bruising but predictable debut
British guitar bands are getting a bit of a rough ride at the moment. Whether it’s elder statesmen like Paul Weller bemoaning the “insipid” wave of music coming through, or Kasabian saying that they’re the only ones who can “save guitar music from the abyss”, things seem hostile for emerging acts. Reading rock group The Amazons are in for a daunting task, it seems, despite having gigged extensively for the last three years, scooping up sundry Catfish & The Bottlemen fans and bagging a slot on the BBC Sound Of 2017 shortlistin the process.
If it feels like an uphill struggle, The Amazons aren’t showing it on this debut album. In fact, the band attempt a knockout blow on each and every track and for the most part they connect. ‘Stay With Me’ is a bombastic opening, and follow-up ‘Burn My Eye’ draws heavily from ’90s grunge. As the record progresses, it becomes clear there’s little danger of the group ripping up the rock rulebook, but that doesn’t necessarily make it any less thrilling – most notably on the anthemic ‘In My Mind’ and the twisting ‘Black Magic’, a pair of bruising belters anchored around stadium-sized guitar hooks.
But for all its leather-clad, rock ’n’ roll bravado, frontman Matt Thomson is at his most sincere and pleasing when the band ease up and embrace their sweeter side – like on the record’s closing piano ballad ‘Palace’ and the nodding funk of ‘Holy Roller’. Those exceptions to the formula are too rare, and the lack of variation gets dull over the course of the album. ‘The Amazons’ will do little to dispel any of the criticisms of the current state of rock, but there’s just enough here to suggest that when the band are at their most electrifying, not much can halt their inevitable rise to the top – despite what the old
Release Date: May 26, 2017
Record Label: Fiction Records