Saturday, 3 February 2018

Album Review: You Used to Be a Safe Place by Shoreline (by Robyn Pierce)

Happy 2018, everybody! For my first review of the year, I’ll be considering the debut EP from melodic punk band Shoreline. The EP is entitled You Used to Be a Safe Place and was released on 19 January via Uncle M Music. Shoreline hail from Münster in Germany and, although they’ve been around since 2015 and seem to have toured quite a bit in that time, this is their first commercial release. Just at a glance, this record is beautifully packaged. The EP comes on 12 inch black vinyl with a white or gold screen printed image on the B-side. The album art is really well done, with a bird and a hand appearing on both the cover and the B-side artwork. The hand seems to symbolize the place where it was once safe to perch, but which now seeks to restrict the little bird.

The EP begins with the song ‘Sad Kids to the Front’ and drops straight into a foot-tapping, head-bopping guitar hook. What I’m most taken by on my first listen are the vocals coming from the band’s primary singer, Hansol Seung. Seung’s vocals are almost operatic at times, but also gravelly and warmly textured. As expected, the song has a great melody and awesome energy, which is why the song’s focus on ‘sadness’, or the energy-sapping numbness of depression, is a little surprising. But the song suggests a head-on approach to this issue, which would get sad kids out of hiding and to the front of the show. ‘Sad Kids to the Front’ is a really captivating opening track which compels you to listen to the rest of the EP.

Next up is ‘Recovery’, featuring fellow Münster-based band Idle Class. This song opens with a syncopated drum beat and some exhilarating guitar chords that have me dancing immediately. It’s another high-energy track that includes some fantastic time changes. It’s fitting that Shoreline chose to collaborate with a band from their home town on this song, as ‘Recovery’ is all about the comfort of home and the space home provides for rest and recuperation. ‘Breakfast (at 5p.m.)’ starts more simply with a single guitar and vocals, giving the song a raw and emotionally-charged feeling. The full band then comes in and the song blossoms into a mid-tempo meditation on a failed relationship, with some soaring gang vocals and a rich, raucous ending.

What I’ve realised by this point in the album, is that Shoreline bring an uplifting and vibrant sound to some difficult and serious subject matter in their song writing. The last song on the EP, entitled ‘Silent Friend’, confirms this theory. It’s still mid-tempo, but is longer than the other songs on the release and initially more stripped down. Seung sings about a lack of confidence and the sort of social anxiety that so many people experience, including the lines “And I hesitate to be myself around you, because I fucked up so many times before. You will get sick of me, I know that for sure”. But, as with the rest of this release, the song is still really joyous. And, as though in a bid to prove him wrong, the other band members soon join in with Seung and lend some supportive ‘woahs’ to the song.

Shoreline’s You Used to Be a Safe Place is a fantastic EP – engaging and highly enjoyable right from the first listen. Even though these songs deal with some of the dark and swirling undertones of everyday life, they’re so danceable. Be sure to give this excellent EP a listen.

You can order You Used To Be A Safe Place here:

This review was written by Robyn Pierce.