Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Album Review: I’ve Got This by Austeros (by Emma Prew)

One of my favourite albums of last year – number 6 in my Top Ten Albums of 2016 in fact – was Painted Blue by Austeros. When Colin asked me to review their debut album for the blog, back in May, it was the first time I had heard of the band but I became a fan the moment I hit play. Austeros fast became one of my favourite current UK bands and so you can imagine how excited I was when I heard they would be releasing new material so soon after their debut album.

I’ve Got This is an EP of 5 brand new Austeros tracks, released on 14th April on the excellent Specialist Subject Records. (They’re releasing new stuff from all my favourites at the moment!) I loved Painted Blue so I was sure to love I’ve Got This too.

First up is a song called To Be You which kicks off with drums for a few seconds before the guitar and bass join in. The track begins fairly slow-paced but it’s not long before a faster jangly poppy Austeros-style guitar melody that I know love begins. To Be You is a song for all of narrow-minded and stubbornly opinionated people in our lives, or indeed just all around us at any given time (cough, Brexit, cough). ‘Living in that narrow mind, Sucks to be you all the time, Turning all you touch to stone, Sucks to be you alone.’ The guitar solo outro and final chorus is particularly good.

Dead Cells is next on I’ve Got This. To Be You was a fairly up-beat and nonchalant track while Dead Cells takes us down a slightly darker and more negative path – but in a good way, if that makes sense. The opening verse lays out Jeremy’s feelings pretty clearly – ‘Look at what I let you do to me, You were my everything, The only one I needed to get me through the day, And darling it’s been real, But this is how I feel, I’d flush you down the toilet before I let you back in.’ It’s direct, it’s honest and the guitars have just the right amount of distortion and the drums pack enough punch to express anger without straying too far from Austeros’ pop punk sound.

After the hard-hitting nature of Dead Cells, Cherished gets the unplugged treatment as this is an acoustic track – at least most of it is, I do hear keys of some description in there too. It’s definitely a change in pace and sound, not only from the previous track on I’ve Got This but the whole Austeros back catalogue. The stripped back essence of Cherished simply means that we get to better appreciate Jeremy’s vocals and lyrics. He actually really reminds me of Jeff Mangum of 90s alt rock band Neutral Milk Hotel, if any of you punks know who that is, on this track.

One of the things I love most about the Austeros sound, and it’s something I’ve mentioned already in this review, is the jangly, warm guitar tones. Figure of Speech is a song that definitely embraces this sound – but it manages to sound both fresh and new, without straying too far from Painted Blue. Figure of Speech is about the excuses that people make sometimes when they make hateful comments and then try to pretend that they didn’t say or mean what they said – racist remarks, homophobic comments and general derogatory behaviour, you know. ‘It’s just a figure of speech, You say every time that you need, To get yourself out of a hole, That you dug with the wrong words you chose.’ 

The fifth and final track on I’ve Got This is one that I recall hearing live (maybe the first time they played it live, maybe not) at the Specialist Subject All-Dayer back in August. Islands is a song about not always feeling overly fond about the town you’re from or reside in – which in Jeremy’s case is/was Cheltenham. The song opens with the following verse, accompanied by some quiet guitar – ‘Lately I’ve been trying to force myself to feel at home, But it’s hard to feel at home somewhere you feel so alone. I have never been an island, Not about to become one…’ The quiet introduction gives the song a real sense of progression, especially as it doesn’t stay quiet for long. The fully electric Austeros can be heard after the first verse and by the final chorus Jeremy has upped his vocals volume as he almost shouts the final words – ‘Now I’m making plans…’

I’ve Got This is comprised of five individually excellent tracks and is just what was needed after Painted Blue – at least to tide us over until album no. 2! Now, I just need to get to an Austeros show asap and hear some of these songs live.

You can pre-order the I’ve Got This 12" via Bandcamp or direct from Specialist Subject.
It is released this Friday – so you can stream it then too.

You can also find Austeros on Facebook here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.