In 2017, The Amazons ticked all the boxes for a band on the rise. Included in a slew of ones to watch lists? Check! Released a debut album that stormed the top 10? Check! Toured the world extensively and found themselves on scores of festival stages? Check and double-check! And in the years that followed, the quartet from Reading have done – well – more of the same. More touring and more festivals, before settling down in their hometown of Reading to write more conventional indie rock.
While the band’s self-titled debut was a solid, if unadventurous, collection of rock tunes, this time around frontman Matt Thomson has said they were looking for a “dirtier, grittier, sexier sound”. They did this by trying to capture the essence of blues, listening to Howlin’ Wolf and reading the Jerry Lee Lewis biography Hellfire. The results, sadly, are their run-of-the-mill sound, albeit somewhat amped up.
Sometimes it works. Album opener ‘Mother’ smacks you in the face. A hurricane of cacophonous riffs and howling vocals, it’s biting, stadium-shaking rock – and a brilliant example of what the band can do. Then there’s the jangling ‘25’, which is filled with Arcade Fire-flecked piano licks and cantering, Iggy Pop inspired drums; it’s a belter.
However, too often the album feels indulgent and unsurprising. ‘Fuzzy Tree’ is an unimaginative indie rock tune that could have come straight off a You Me At Six or Nothing But Thieves record – that’s to say, it lacks anything that sets The Amazons aside from the legions of guitar bands bobbing about at the moment. The stuttering ‘Doubt It’ chugs along until eventually it reaches the finish line, while dreary ballad ‘All Over Town’ is sparse and lacklustre.
Then ‘Future Dust’ reaches levels of nauseating indulgence with a reprise of ‘25’, complete with pump organ, twanging guitar lines and what sound like ASMR inspired backing vocals. It’s an unneeded aside, tainting what had been a highlight of the album.
It’s a hard thing, trying to carve a place for yourself in the current glut of British guitar bands. And at times The Amazons do an admirable job, finding a sound that is distinctively them. But more often than not on ‘Future Dust’, they find themselves adopting a tame version of what they could produce. Limp and lifeless, ‘Future Dust’ is an album from a band who can give much, much more.