If anyone ever comes up to you and says that The Shanghai Times‘ full debut album, to be released early November, rocks… kick them in the teeth and reply, “That’s an understatement, you bloody infidel!” To simply say the this album ‘rocks’, doesn’t do it justice.
As soon as you pop in the album opener, “Leave It All Behind,” you’re blown out of your mind. Its like watching the most intense suspense film you can get your hands on. The tension builds up in the verses and knocks you around like Mike Tyson’s punch bag during the choruses. But it doesn’t stop there, as you may have to sit down to endure the intense ‘wah-wah’ guitar solo that closes the track down.
“Do My Time” kicks off with an acoustic intro, but doesn’t relieve the tension one bit, as it soon turns into another electric rocker with epic choral harmonies and power rhythms. The two tracks that follow, “Bullet Train” and “Come At Me” continue to go straight for the jugular, leaving you no breathing space whatsoever.
However, all this rocking isn’t in vein. The Shanghai Times throw in great ballads like the soothing “My Way,” “No Dice” and the harmonious “The She Goes” that takes turns between a warm ballad to a loud screaming power-tune.
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One of the absolute highlights of this debut album, is the exit track, “Triad.” It starts with a fully fledged Bon Jovi-ish guitar riff then shifts right down into a melodious ballad, and when you think the song is over it comes back, then back again, better and better each time.
The twelve-track debut album, is a beautiful mix of drummer Steve Robinson’s vibrant and vigorous drums, bassist Kya Knights’ fulfilling and tantalizing bass, guitarists Ashley Pye and Jake Epiphone’s evocative and zealous guitars, that blend perfectly with Darren Hardy’s, at times soothing voice and at other times powerful screaming, that never takes it too far over the edge.
Now that The Shanghai Times’ line-up has stabilized as a nice equitable five-piece, this album presents a real group, showcasing some great songwriting and is by far the strongest Shanghai Times recording I have heard to date. Having in the past reviewed a vast collection of their single releases.
Considering that most of post-grunge has become a joke, it’s great to see Darren and the rest of the band continue to develop their sound in their own way and rise above their indie contemporaries. With a combination of the best drama and emotion of grunge, and some up-to-date elements of metal and mainstream rock, a bolder and maturer new sound has developed for The Shanghai Times.
Today’s rock music has pretty much been massacred. I’m not saying that everything is bad, but rock music has gotten to the point where everything sounds the same. New bands, wanting to hit it big, all come out copying the same formula, to make music like the successors before them. Most bands are either trying to sound like Pearl Jam, Creed, The Strokes or the The Hives. Nothing is original anymore.
On the contrary, The Shanghai Times‘ debut album is well-rounded, consistent, lively, powerful, thematic and above all just plain enjoyable after repeated listens. So put down your “Wanna Be – Boy Band CD” and pick up this underrated indie-rock, pièce de résistance!
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