There's a new sound from Nashville and one that you wouldn't ordinarily associate with that musical mecca. This is the sound of melodic, punky pop rockers fORMER. Refreshingly they don't sound as typically American as say bands like Good Charlotte or Sum 41. Sure there are some Cheap Trick moments on this disc but mix that with some good old British punk and new wave influences and you've got a band that you can't quite pinpoint where they live just by listening to their music.
The album's intro has me thinking of The Ruts but that dissipates upon the entrance of Denny Smith's strange vocals. Strange is good. He has style. His evocative vocals come from the same school as Greg Dulli, Sponge's Vinnie Dombroski and Subcircus' Peter Bradley Jnr. There's something more going on here than singing. Something more evocative. The chorus picks back up into punk territory with shouted gang vocals. Connecting the punk passages are musically inventive pieces that may get you thinking of anyone from The Wildhearts to Jellyfish. A strong opener.
And a strong follow-up too. 'Fix You' cements all of these influences into a hook laden song convincingly put across by Denny's vocal delivery.
The hooks keep a-coming with 'How Does It Feel' - another contender for standout track. The vocal production is brilliant - close and intimate reminding me of Paloalto with a backing sounding as if lifted from Angel's classic 'Sinful' album.
'Lie To Me' conjures up a whole platoon of influences; Aimee Mann, Bay City Rollers, Redd Kross, Mansun, Haven and The Cars. This built-in familiarity has instant classic written all over it.
'Born A Ghost' is a lyrical adjunct to 'The Ghost At Number One' by Jellyfish. A musically interesting and spacious song that resolves into another punky push in the chorus.
And talking of the band being musically interesting just listen to 'Blue Divide' which stretches out into typical Wildhearts meandering. And then there's 'Sisters' with its sleazy intro and inventive middle section which turns as dark as Queen's 'Death On Two Legs' and as funky as The Electric Boys...wow!
'Say It Isn't So' has a funky pop sensibility similar to what Kiss played about with on their much underrated 'Unmasked' album. The overall effect here is much punchier and heavier and augmented with a backdrop of Jellyfish-like harmonies.
fORMER are a cool find this early in 2012. A perfect blend of power pop, punk and rock for your money. The album is very well produced and the songs? There's not a bad one on the album. Had I heard this record last month I'm sure that it would be sitting comfortably in my top 20 albums of the year.