It’s not clear what’s in the water over in Australia/New Zealand territory (aside from the sharks), but they seem to produce the most enigmatic bands. BANKS ARCADE are the latest group to make a splash over this side of the world and judging by their first full-length album, Future Lovers, they have a great future ahead of themselves.
It isn’t easy to pin down their style to a single genre as they have a myriad of influences that are peppered through the 13 tracks on display here. Anyone familiar with their previous EP releases Fever Dream and Endnote will still hear that same bombastic mix of styles, except they’ve paid extra attention this time around to nailing the hooks and melodies that could potentially lead to bigger staged shows in the future.
The album saunters in with a soft piano at the forefront until Joshua O’Donnell’s smooth vocal lines kick in, gliding over the top. The intro leads perfectly into Freaks which sways with attitude. Synths cut through the beat, pairing well with the lyrics “Step into the dark, don’t be afraid”. It’s a slow burn to open the record but it’s not long until proceedings pick up with the NORTHLANE-inspired Fake Your Death. It’s frantic and ferocious that would kill in a live setting.
Numbers like Spark showcase the band’s ability to create sing-along anthems with those huge hooky choruses akin to BRING ME THE HORIZON. The subtle drum work in the verses will be underrated but add to the track. The lyrics are hard-hitting and end up being very deep, especially within the next track, Be Someone. There’s a lot of talk of regret here, with a lot of soul searching being undertaken. The track starts soft but ends up in a crescendo with the vocals becoming more and more desperate. There are shades of SLEEP TOKEN here.
The guitars are quite minimalist throughout but they don’t have to be any more complicated. The riffs serve their purpose and are occasionally the best part of the tracks (see System Failed). The breakdown here, while short, is gargantuan in tone as it thunders through with the bass hand in hand.
There are a few missteps on Future Lovers too though, with some of the tracks feeling a little like filler. After the chaotic and intriguing Fake Your Death, Smile doesn’t hit the same way and following one of the best tracks on the album has done the track a real disservice. The catchy chorus isn’t enough to save itself from mediocrity. The same goes for Medicine which ends up sounding a little muddled towards the end rather than the final glorious hurrah it needed. Thankfully they nail the landing with the album closer, Wine. It’s a hulking ballad that tugs on the heartstrings and features arguably the best vocal performance of the album.
Overall, the mix of metalcore, electronic elements and even hip-hop has worked well together as proved by some of their influences. But none have managed to merge them all as seamlessly as BANKS ARCADE. There’s a lot to like here on Future Lovers. While they’ve perhaps kept it a little safe going into this record after their more experimental EPs, they have effortlessly made their tracks more streamlined for the bigger arenas that they will no doubt be playing shortly, and you can bank on that.
Future Lovers is set for release on July 29th via UNFD.
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