Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Album Review: Sun Dances by Bike Notes (by Emma Prew)

Bike Notes are a melodic punk rock trio from Edinburgh featuring members of The Walking Targets and The Murderburgers. At the end of 2017, after a couple of years of playing together as a band, they released their debut EP Sun Dances on Struck Dum Records. I actually found the EP on Bandcamp, having never heard of the band before, because I was drawn to the tree artwork – I do love trees.

The opening track of Sun Dances is titled May 9th and wastes no time in getting things moving. We have bold in-your-face guitar, bass and drums from the outset but the sound retains that melodiousness that I was hoping for from a band of this genre. The song is upbeat with clean, rather than gruff, vocals that have a lovely subtle hint of Scottish accent. Some people (I’m looking at you, work colleagues) believe that you shouldn’t be able to hear a person’s accent when they sing but I think that’s stupid. May 9th has a sense of trying to be optimistic about it that I found endearing. ‘So if you see me shiver, I’m just trying to shake the feeling, That alone our optimism, Is not enough to keep us close.’ Next up, kicking off with a grooving drum beat, is A Dissolving Line. When the guitars join the mix I am reminded a bit of The Burnt Tapes, kings of London melodic punk, but maybe that’s because I’ve listened to that band a lot over the past year. Perhaps Bike Notes will be my Burnt Tapes of 2018! The opening lyrics of A Dissolving Line stayed lodged in my head long after the song had finished – ‘The problem with an open mind, Is knowing what to let inside.’ This track is more mid-tempo than the first but with plenty of those great catchy melodies that’ll have you nodding along. A quiet bridge section full of emotion took me pleasantly by surprise towards the end of the song and this slower pace continues to the end.

The pace is soon picked up again for the third track of Sun Dance, The Road To Inseros. This is the shortest song of the EP and focusses on themes of self-reflection, self-searching and the romanticism that travelling can bring.  The idea is that the further you travel, the further you leave your worries behind and the clearer state of mind you are left with. ‘And as time keeps slipping on, I’ll keep forcing this perspective.’ A great song with some food for thought in its lyrics. Getting heads nodding for one last time is the fourth and final track, What You Don’t Say. It’s been hard not to overuse the word ‘melodic’ in this review, as I clearly stated in my intro that this is a melodic punk band, but Bike Notes really do have an awesome [melodic] sound. Something this song does feature that I don’t think the previous three did – at least not obviously – is dual vocals, particularly notable in the chorus. The notes on Bandcamp say Kevin Cameron, of fellow Edinburgh punk band Elk Gang, lent his vocal chords to this EP so that could be the second voice here. I feel like this song could be a Bike Notes live set closer and the use of multiple vocalists certainly lends itself well to a singalong. ‘Some say what you don’t say says the most, But when so much goes unsaid I’d say that saying’s over simple.’

I wish this EP was longer and I wish I lived further north to catch Bike Notes live. I’ll definitely be there should they pop down to London however.

Be sure to check out Sun Dances on Bandcamp and you can give Bike Notes a like on the Facebook too if you fancy it.

This album review was written by Emma Prew.