The Dauntless Elite hail from Leeds and hold the honor of being the first international Plan-it-X band. With Graft, their first full-length, they deliver pop punk akin to many contemporary bands from the Midwestern United States. They've also released an EP and a couple 7"s.
Upon putting in the CD, it runs through a few clicks and whistles before kicking off with a friendly "Cheers" at the twenty-second mark. Immediately, you get a feel for where the record will take you. The dual vocals with a rough, yet melodic, delivery shout over relentless pop-punk guitars. Their website lists Dillinger Four, American Steel, and The Broadways among their favorite bands and it shows in their music.
The record maintains an aggressive tempo throughout. After the first two songs, the vocalists switch duties, with the deeper-voiced singer replacing the raspier one as the lead. Here the album falters, as this voice just doesn't sit with me as well. It works best in a complementary role or when the song carries more of a sing-a-long chorus, such as in "It Takes a Ship to Sail," as opposed to "Ordinary Days (Close But No Seagal)" and "Byte Sighs." The highlights of the album are the group chorus songs with alternating singers, such as "Running Battle," "Shilling," and "Harbour Gates."
I enjoy dual vocal pop punk, and The Dauntless Elite are no exception. Having multiple singers offers a variety that, to be blunt, the music sometimes lacks. The different voices create separation and keep your attention through Graft's duration. When the bassline kicks in and the group chants, "So I return to this / My safe harbour / Where it's more than trust / Less than hate / Is this the day that I die?" on "Harbour Gates" you've all but forgotten the thirty seconds where the singers voice annoyed you earlier.
Many single vocalist pop-punk bands fail to hold my attention; it could be because they've crammed twenty-five songs on a disc or because every song sounds the same. Graft's twelve songs range between 2:23 and 3:43 and offer enough variety between singers, melodies, and harmonies that they avoid the sameness that plagues much of their genre, all while keeping it long enough to warrant a full-length but without boring me to tears. Lyrically, the songs feature humorous titles with an intelligent, cynical skew. They are anthemic and sarcastic without seeming silly or preachy.
Perhaps because this is released on two labels -- Plan-it-X in the US and Bombed Out in the UK -- the recording quality is better than many Plan-it-X releases.
7.0 / 10
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