|Album Rating: A-|
Having played alongside bands such as the Gaslight Anthem, Gallows, and Crime in Stereo, Sharks are by no means newcomers to the music scene. However, it is hard for a band to truly establish themselves without first having a full length album under their belt. This was the case for the English punk rockers in Sharks up until the recent release of their debut LP, No Gods: a lighthearted and thoughtfully-written album that confirms the talent demonstrated by Sharks’ on their two previous EPs. The band’s driving and undeniably charming brand of accessible punk (more suitably called alternative on this release) proves that they are not trying to be anything other than what they are: four guys brought up on punk music looking to return the favor.
While Sharks’ aesthetic appearance may be rough (and a bit pseudo/thrift store punk, for that matter), their sound is almost nothing of the sort. No Gods, quite simply, is the sound of summer, and the driving rock guitar leads and smoothly flowing vocals can be appreciated by almost anyone who can tolerate distortion. Truthfully, Sharks would not be out of place on a Top 40-playing radio station (though the band would likely shudder at that notion). What separates Sharks from other similar sounding bands who have reached mainstream success is their authenticity and undeniable writing talent.
No Gods is lyrically clever and genuine in all aspects. Front man James Mattock cites Charles Bukowski as an influence for his writing, and though Mattock’s lyrics are not as plainly spoken as Bukowski’s work, they are delivered with the same honest perspective. At the end of “Til’ the Wonders Rise,” Mattock sings, in a manner almost too personal to dislike, “We’re the underestimated underdogs/what you await for us you can get for yourself.” “Patience Spider” exhibits more of Mattock’s writing prowess through the use of metaphors and vivid imagery which, combined with infectiously catchy hooks, makes No Gods engaging throughout its 40-minute entirety.
The same areas in which No Gods excels may be criticized by some for being “too poppy” or hook driven, especially for a band frequently labeled as punk. However, one must keep in mind that Sharks are a relatively well-known band signed to a recognizable record label – naturally they will not be as raw sounding as the cassette and vegan brownie-selling bands that played your basement last night.
No Gods is a more refined and focused approach to punk that should not be overly-judged for its soft exterior, but instead sung along to wholeheartedly. In reality, the songwriting quality and gigantic choruses make up for the album’s explicit poppiness, leaving little to be criticized anyway. So, tack Sharks’ latest release onto your summer playlist next to The Menzingers and Cheap Girls, for No Gods is an album you should not have to spend the season without.
1. 'Til The Wonders Rise
2. Arcane Effigies
3. Able Moving Hearts
4. On A Clear Day You Can See Yourself
5. Matthew's Baby
6. Patient Spider
7. Turn To You
8. Dawn Soft Light
9. What Entails
11. No Gods