Funeral Shakes is the debut album of the band of the same name – and it’s the Jekyll and Hyde of alternative rock efforts.
The album is due for release on February 16, through hotly-tipped indie label Silent Cult Records. The four-piece rock ‘n roll band, from Watford, evolved from the ashes of The Smoking Hearts, with bassist and vocalist Calvin Roffey and guitarist Simon Barker lending their talents to the new outfit.
Speaking of the debut, Barker said: “When would you ever want to hear a song about people who’ve lived happily ever after? Never! You want to listen to the negative stuff, all wrapped up in a happy tune.”
The band say the album is not for those who bask in the glory of love, but more an ode to the jilted, the heartbroken and the beaten – and that’s something which definitely comes across through the angry tracks, the ‘fuck yous’, and the outright tragedies.
But though it becomes compelling and as out there as a rock ‘n rock album can be, the start of Funeral Shakes is a bit of a letdown. ‘Over You’ is a medley of guttural screams of “OVER YOU, OVER YOU, OVER YOU”, and repeated post-hardcore gimmicks. It’s repetitive, but not in an ear-worm, singing-mindlessly-on-the-train sort of way.
‘The Motions’ is immediately more melodic, offsetting sometimes harsh vocals with beachy guitars. It’s a world away from its predecessor, and much more suited to the band’s talents.
And that’s a theme which continues throughout. ‘Circles’ brings back the tougher edge for a four-minute interlude, but the rest of the album preys on what they do best – weird and wonderful tracks with inventive guitars and, mostly, heartbreaking lyrics.
‘Gin Palace’ gives their instrumentation a chance to shine – an ingenious meld of exotic musical theatre style riffs and stunning bass-lines.
And then there’s ‘Howl’ which is somehow reminiscent of the Beach Boys in a way you’d think impossible in an album masquerading as rock. But it works, and turns the track into a straight up pop-rock bop – and probably the best track on the album.
Through the tail end of the album, we’re brought back to rock with ‘Bon Voyage’, before taking a journey through an indie masterpiece in ‘Safari’ and finishing with some soul-destroying heartbreak in ‘You’re so Bad’.
Funeral Shakes may have got off to a taxing start with their debut, but by the end of the album the universe had shifted and we’d seen it for what it really is – an ingenious delve into a medley of genres. We can’t want to see what the future holds for this young band.