Sharks are awesome. They have big teeth, they've been around since the dinosaurs, and they'll eat anything. Sharks are awesome.
We Versus The Shark are pretty cool, too. Their music is razor-sharp and jagged, not unlike shark teeth. But they haven't been around quite as long, it seems. Ruin Everything! is their debut effort. (Pfft. Mick Jagger rocked out with a T-Rex. I was there.) However! They will eat anything. This indie/math/pop/spaz/dancepunk/hardcore/rock quartet from Georgia have gorged themselves on quite a few bands and styles, as you can see by those numerous genre slashes.
Ruin Everything! has a very modern feel. When I listen to this album, I picture smokestacks, metal girders, and the gray blanket of industry. In fact, you could say it tastes more like metal than actual metal music itself. I attribute this to the album's low-level production, the gritty steel-scraping guitars, the clattering factory-made discopunk drumbeats, and the occasional electronic buzz or squeal, amongst other things. It's all very industrial. Another way in which this album attains its modern feel is in its influences, which range from the Blood Brothers, Les Savy Fav, and even to a touch of Cursive (see the drum intro to "I Am At The Mercy Of An Ambulance Driver"). But make no mistakes, this album is not flawless, and flaunts some very prominent weak points alongside its strongest areas.
In "You Don't Have To Kick It," a solitary silver fin tears through the ocean's azure surface, approaching steadily. This is the post-punk soundtrack equivalent to Jaws. There's an element of danger as the guitars stab and jerk around each other, throwing down hook after hook whilst gradually building in intensity. But just when you think the song is going to explode, it all becomes skewered, and the assault you expected completely derails. This sense of disjointedness can be found throughout the whole album, where certain songs fail to pull themselves together and remain focused the whole way through. It can be off-putting, as moments of cohesion are frequently offset by moments of general confusion and disarray. So if this is math rock, then it's a course in chaos theory. The cohesion is eventually retrieved when Luke Fields breaks through the mess and growls, "Whatever falls to the ground don't need no stopping!" over a mesh of distorted, thundering guitars.
"Ten Uh Clock Heart Uh Tack" is where the band successfully gels disorder and order into one happy medium. The song weaves female singer Samantha Paulsen's soft, ear-pleasing vocals around thunderous Death From Above-esque guitar crunches, blistering electronic squeals, crack-crazed guitar blitzes and an awesome bass line. Paulsen should sing far more. It's a perfect formula, and they should stick to it. Following this, "This Graceless Planet" sets the mark even higher. I can't emphasize enough how good this song is. Initially a shattering guitar driven barrage reminiscent of Faraquet combined with Luke Fields' Blood Brother-esque snarls of "Now it's time to pay it up!", the song ascends even further into the realms of greatness and simply explodes at the 2:45 mark, erupting into a full throttle frenetic dancepunk assault that annihilates everything in its path. This is the only moment on the album that truly evokes the tag "dancepunk," and I only wish it went for longer, as it easily rivals the efforts of The Rapture and Liars for the short time in which it lasts.
The rest of the album demonstrates the band's general lack of focus, interspersing some great moments with some barely listenable ones. "Slide" starts poorly via an organ-led rap-rockish breakdown, but picks itself up near the end when the organ is reintroduced and picked apart by two piranha-like guitar attacks, mutating the song into a deadly feeding frenzy. Two lack-luster songs later, "No Flint No Spark" recalls Drive Like Jehu, administering a much needed, kick-ass adrenaline boost.
Overall, Ruin Everything! is a valiant debut. I can see what they're getting at, and it works well. However, it could work better, and I feel confident We Versus The Shark will no doubt better themselves on their next effort, as they posses both the musical prowess and creativity to do so. More structure and less straying would definitely bolster the band's sound, as well as some higher quality production. This is definitely a band to watch out for.
- Like with sharks.
7.0 / 10
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