Muskets – ‘Chew’

By Ashwin Bhandari

Unless you’re a big band signed to a major label with tons of mainstream exposure, rock music sadly doesn’t pay the bills like it used to. Even some of the biggest UK bands are forced to work part-time jobs and make social sacrifices just to make ends meet.  If you’re not used to this intensive balance it can be quite a strain on your mental health, and it’s one of the many topics touched upon on ‘Chew’. Alongside the likes of Birdskulls, Broadbay, Gender Roles and other Brighton emo acts, Muskets have broken through the DIY circles into the big leagues, thanks to their recent signing with No Sleep Records.

You can rest assured that this hasn’t compromised their sound in any way however. Building on the pop hooks present on ‘Pollyseed’ and the blaring grunge guitars on ‘Spin’, ‘Chew’ sees Muskets shy away from the Title Fight ‘Floral Green’ sound they had before and maturing into their own distinct style. On opener ‘Pond Drop’ we’re treated to a barrage of solid drum fills, noisy guitars, and frontmen Alex Cheung and Daniel Mckenna’s call and response vocal dynamics. The halftime ending brings about a more than satisfactory finish and we’re only 2 minutes and 47 seconds into this record.

Slow burners such as ‘Decay’ and ‘Breathing’ allow you to focus on the often blunt, cynical lyricism that Muskets are known for, with lines such as “The odds are against you, as you wait for grey skies to turn to blue”. The title of the album itself is a reference to the phrase ‘chewing the fat’ from Catcher In The Rye, but thankfully Muskets do anything  but that on the album.

The crucial padding out of the track listing ensures that faster, straightforward cuts like ‘Chewing Gum’, ‘Truck’, and ‘Frankie Stable’ retain the fast-paced momentum needed for an emo record, but don’t end up sounding the same. These tracks especially are where the production shines brightest, with Muskets once again opting to record their instrumentals live to make ‘Chew’ far gutsier and gritty in its overall delivery. There’s certainly a 90’s influence in their sound but it would be disingenuous to call their sound a revival of sorts. At times there’s even sprinklings of a Fugazi influence in the abundance of catchy bass hooks throughout the LP.

Whilst ‘Chew’ took longer than expected to be released, the hype surrounding it has paid off, and ultimately it’s a no nonsense debut that manages to accurately convey the ugly truths of growing up.

 

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