In this age where all the great bands are playing to a handful of converts in tiny venues across the nation whilst the bad ones are somehow selling bucketloads and playing arenas and festivals, it’s almost always a thrill when a band of the former category release their debut album. You really want to root for them from the get-go; to be one of those precious few that witnessed them in the local pub and championed their early releases before they ascended to the next level.
Here’s where LOOM come in. This three-piece from Leamington Spa have been making a name for themselves in recent years, grabbing bigger and better support slots across the UK, and helping themselves to endorsements from the likes of Zane Lowe and the NME along the way. Now, they’ve finally seen fit to unleash their opening statement on the world with this self-titled album.
Unfortunately, contrary to their live performance, it’s a misstep. The overwhelming feeling you get over the ten tracks is one of a band with an identity crisis. Sure, the overall theme is mid 90s grunge but the delivery, by and large, comes across as flat. The band can only partly be blamed for this: the production is little better than a home recording on any bog-standard PC program. The odd track aside it’s a pretty uninspiring listen; it doesn’t really take off.
As far as the songs go, it’s a head scratching experience. There are the obvious “big” numbers (“Lice”, “Nailbenders”), which at least sound cohesive, but there are too many that don’t seem to know what they want to be. “Hate” is reminiscent of 90s Stiltskin, “Salt” is The Cult by numbers, “Barbed Wire” throwaway punk. Most bizarre of all is “Get A Taste” – imagine Echo and the Bunnymen getting drunk with Marilyn Manson, playing “Pretty Vacant”, and you’re almost there.
Halfway through the album they drop in a Jesus Lizard cover (“Seasick”), which is a like for like retread of the original. This maybe explains wherein the problem lies: by attempting to walk amongst giants they’re sailing too close to pastiche. On “Seasick” they genuinely sound relaxed, whereas on their own material they’re trying far too hard. Vocalist Tarik (brother of the Horrors’ Faris) Badwan is the main culprit: one minute hoarsely doing a Kurt, the next mimicking Andrew Eldritch. Yet when he lets rip he offers a unique voice which, if utilized more, would give the band a fresh angle. It’s an overlooked opportunity because by the time final track “Slowly Freezing Heart” (post-Layne Alice in Chains this time) comes around there’s nothing which convinces you to give the album a fresh spin.
With so many vibrant bands on the UK scene begging to be noticed of late (forget your Carling and 02 whatevers; find your local dives), LOOM have got their work cut out to keep your attention. On this evidence they appear to have fallen at the first hurdle.
LOOM is out now