Saturday, 22 August 2015

Album Reviews: Leagues Below by The Octopussys

Today's review is of Belgian pop punks The Octopussys new album Leagues Below. Since forming in 2005 The Octopussys have aimed to deliver the perfect summer punk rock soundtrack with great riffs, melodies and instantly sing-able lyrics. 

The first track on Leagues below is named Halfway Around The World. The opening chords of the song are energetic and from the start you know this album is going to be good fun. Naturally, this being a pop punk record, the song is about girls. This one is about getting over one after being lead on for a long time. I'm sure we can all relate to this. The melody in the chorus is great for making a crowd want to jump up and down. Daddy Issues is about a girl who is insecure and makes terrible decisions because of this, and then the strain it puts on a relationship. This song really reminds me of a band named Rufio who were around in the early 2000's. Musically it's a hardcore crunchy pop punk mash up with some soaring high pitched vocals. The guitar work in the song Gone really stands out. The riff is fast and upbeat and makes me want to break out the air guitar. Vocally it's more controlled and helps to tell the story of the song. On first listen to the fourth song Don't Call Me Shirley straight away I thought that it had the sound of a classic 90's American teen comedy movie soundtrack. Then I had a good listen to the lyrics of the song and it turns out the song is an ode to all the great movies of the 80's. Ghostbusters, The Goonies, Die Hard, Terminator, Indiana Jones, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Ferris Bueller, The Breakfast Club, Gremlins, Teenwolf and Back To The Future amongst others.

Cut The Ties is a song about the place you grew up changing and being brave enough to move on to better things. It's a slower paced song but is full of hooks. The tune is bouncy and the lyrics are hugely catch and insightful. Oblivious brings us to the halfway point of the album and is a song about not knowing what you have until it's gone. The tone of this track feels a lot more serious than the previous efforts but never really hit's any big highs or lows to keep me interested the whole way through. Ink's For Squids is my favourite song on Leagues Below. It's a fun little song about being too scared to get a tattoo. Lead singer Thibaut Hox tells us the story of the time he went to get a tattoo but chickened out in the end. This subject matter is a first for me, in all of my years listening obsessively to punk rock music I can't say I've ever heard a song about not getting tattoos. Ten points for originality. The eighth song Groundhog Day is about changing the past if you were able to go back in time. Musically this song has more of a skate punk feel to it with some super poppy vocals on top. I like a song that makes me think about things and Groundhog Day certainly falls into that category. 

Take A Hike is another fun little song about a subject I can't believe any band ever has ever written a song about - Nordic Walking. This is a very poppy song, but what else would you expect when a song has such silly lyrics as "People Laugh When They See Us Passing, They're Jealous Because Our Buns Are Nice And Tight, From All Of The Outdoor Action We Are Getting." It's stupid but it's a lot of fun. Beer Me Up is a short song about feeling too old to enjoy yourself at a gig. The track finishes just as quickly as it begins and barely pauses for breath throughout. Nick Boonen's drumming really stands out on Beer Me Up, it's hard hitting and really powers the song along. Friendly Fire is all about friendship and no matter what scraps, mishaps and shenanigans you get yourself in a good friend will always have your back. For a song that is about friendship I would have liked to hear more gang vocals on the chorus, there's some subtle harmonies but I would have preferred a big shouty gang vocal finish on the song. I did really like the opportunity for bass player Mark Bolsens to play a small solo, that man has some skills. The final song on Leagues Below is named Not Your Problem. The track starts in quite a surprising fashion with a little bit of guitar feedback we haven't yet heard on the album. I'm not sure if the band are being serious or a bit tongue in cheek with their message in this song. It's about running from all of your responsibilities and problems and living carefree as long as you can. I see the message as being a bit of a release from the real world, about singing about what you ultimately would want to do but know you shouldn't actually. Maybe it's a way to be therapeutic on a certain situation? Maybe I'm clutching at straws?

Leagues Below is definitely a step up in song writing from The Octopussys previous album Face The World. I enjoyed Face The World but felt there were too many songs about girls and love on it so it's a pleasure to hear the band touch on some different subjects. I think if I had heard this album ten years ago it definitely would have been the soundtrack to my summer but it is also very enjoyable at my grand old age of 29.

Stream and buy Leagues Below here:

Like The Octopussys here: