A horrible hack

Above Them

Are We A Danger To Ourselves

Year Released: 2012
Format: CD
Label: Specialist Subject
Reviewed by MH on Feb 10, 2012
Yorkshire’s Above Them put out Blueprint For A Better Time a couple of years back which was a pretty solid album. They have recently recruited a second guitarist, Adam Bilboa from Manchester punks Leagues Apart, and this is their first offering as a 4-piece.  Produced by the singer from Bivouac and The Wireless Stores, this new album picks up where the last one left off and there’s no great change in sound. They are still playing indie rock crossed with punk rock. It’s a winning formula when this lot do it though. There is a much crisper, cleaner sound on this album but the stops and starts, hopeful, determined lyrics and slightly gruff Yorkshire accent are still present alongside some big choruses - the power of Oliver Wood’s voice at the forefront of every track. Even the song titles (like “Something To Keep You Positive” and “Giving Up On Sorrow”) are typical Above Them.  

The opening song “A New Year” gets things off to a cracking start – kicking off with a big drumbeat, it slows down towards the end where the vocals and guitar come back in alone before the bass and drums kick back in - Wood singing about survival and struggle ("My friend I ain't ready to sink just yet"). It's a big opener and it’s clear from the off that they have tightened up musically – there is a very accomplished, confident sound to this album. Things don’t let up from there – they dive straight into the handclaps on track 2 and then another standout track, the punkier "Temper Like A Hand Grenade" which has a bit of a Hot Water Music feel to it. The press release suggests a couple of focus tracks but for me there are others that surpass those and the highlight for me is "The Fall” -  there is a definite Leatherface-influence on this one and some of the other faster tracks. Even the guitar at the start of "Something To Keep You Positive" sounds like it could have been on “Minx”. The album will draw comparisons to Milloy too, particularly the vocal-style, but there is a much cleaner sound here. Most of the songs are mid-paced and I'm really into the vocals on this album. “On Form Like A Bad Year” starts brilliantly then ends suddenly in under a minute – I would have liked this song to be longer. The album closes with the slower, anthemic title track cranking up the “woah-woahs” for the last few bars - another brilliant song and perhaps the most anthemic on here. It's certainly the most poppy song they have released.  

  Above Them have shown great potential on their previous releases and they're really starting to come into their own on this album. For me, it flows a lot better than the last one and I’ve just realized I’m not skipping any of the tracks when I listen to it – a rarity for me. I probably would have preferred this to be a little rougher around the edges as it’s pretty slick. There is nothing groundbreaking here but this is good stuff.

Recommended record by Collective Zine!

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