The Exploding Boy (named after The Cure song) jumped straight out of the ever-growing review pile at Moshville Times, for that very reason. I mean, name yourself after a band like that and you just know it’s going to be influenced by that post-punk, emo, goth rock that I grew up with. And I was not wrong….
Relatively unknown of here in the UK, I was shocked to discover that this is actually the Swedish sextet’s fifth album that is out this Friday 18th May. Wondering why this band had been completely off my radar, I couldn’t wait to give Alarms! a spin. I’ve got to say I fell completely and immediately in love. This album consumed me for days arousing my aural senses and awakening my heart. It rekindled my love for this genre of music that these days you can only catch by seeing old bands reforming, or listening to the few that are still going strong and still bringing out new material. Now I’m all for playing my old albums relentlessly and will continue to do so, but this album is just so refreshing and will certainly fill a huge void in the current music market.
It’s true that some tracks could walk straight off an album you’ve heard before, swathed in synth soundscapes (Nicklas Isgren), poppy drum beats (Richard Ankers) and glorious, uplifting, layered vocal choruses it just screams of Simple Minds, New Order, Joy Division and the likes. Yet the contemporary and highly emotive lyrics in Alarms! that cover everything from social commentary to the human condition culminate in a very original and modern sounding record.
So, what of the songs? I have to say there are so many highlights on this album it’s impossible to choose, but here are my top tracks. Although sombre lyrically, opener “Fireland (The End Of Dark City)”, a song of hopelessness, and feelings of ‘it’s too late’ and all that remains is a farewell to your loved ones, is actually upbeat musically by contrast. Stefan Axell’s vocals are haunting and beautifully executed, echoed sublimely by those of Johan Sjöblom. “Alarms In Silence” has a real Cure feel about it, it makes you want to dance and head sway in the only way that you can to this type of music. The chorus is catchy as hell and will have you singing along in time.
“The Day” intro could easily be mistaken for New Order’s “True Faith” but the similarities stop there. Dark and poppy, it has a repetitive drumbeat that you will not be able to sit still too. Glorious lyrically, you’ll lose yourself completely in these provocative words and deluge of guitars (Les Andersson). Whereas “Run Red” is far more rocky in nature, an electrifying intro, angsty, punky vocals and hard hitting drums with a bass driven rhythm (Mattias Svensson) gives this track a real punch. With a massive chorus I see this quickly becoming an anthem for this band.
“Danger Zone” has a really different vibe to the rest of the album, it almost has Muse’s “Uprising HQ” beat and feel to it, just tinged with a slightly more goth vibe and yet another sensual, catchy, electro layered chorus that completely draws you in. “Sign O’ The Time” is a perfectly placed acoustic number, approaching the attitudes of those who look down their noses at those who flee war and terror and dare to try and find peace in another country. Dark and punky, the band thrash out their frustrations at the world and the result is spine tingling.
Eleven tracks in total on this explosive dark pop album. Sublime synth waves and emotive, impassioned lyrics with pop beats you can’t help but dance to, I implore you to add it to your record collection whatever type of post-punk, new wave, synth-rock you’re into, you will love this record.
- Fireland (The End Of Dark City)
- Alarms In Silence
- The Day
- Run Red
- Stop Time
- Pointless Action
- Danger Zone
- Sign O’ The Time
- Liar’s Roar