* * * *
Intoxicating, raucous and beautifully distorted, any fears of a sophomore slump for Devonport's wonderkids The Checks are firmly chased away by the shrill scream of guitars and Ed Knowles' vocals on
Recorded independently in New Zealand, the band experiment with all manner of sounds and styles on this record, while still dishing up a slick collection of cohesive rock 'n' roll. No longer bound by the rules and directives of a major record label, you can hear the freedom from beginning to end.
starts the party with a hiss and a roar, before
You and Me
slows down the swagger, full of tinkering keyboards and distorted riffs, courtesy of guitarist Sven Petterson.
From the deep, hypnotic rumble of Crows to the falsetto of
, Knowles pushes his voice to new extremes as he experiments with different dynamics and softens his trademark yowl.
Paired with some trigger-fingered guitar playing,
makes for one of the record's most intriguing moments and cements the fact this is definitely not more of the same from the young five-piece. As does the catchy folk mantra of
Any Man Will Run You In
From there, the band take a trip into the world of dream pop on the sonic God Birds. Happy clappy pop gets a look-in on
Till the Dance Is Over
, before the vocoder heavy
Get Off the Stage Man
and the Strokes-like closer
Hold My Head
, all the while maintaining their signature, blues-soaked swagger.
The band tread the fine line between experimentation and total reinvention, keeping their original fans onside while diversifying enough to bring new ones on board.
Paired with some beautifully obscure lyrics (
's "Cold in the body, look rough in the velvet and I'm just gonna bring to your monkey" and
Till the Dance is Over
's "Guitar on her lips and a single star in her mouth/And by two the dance is over and you brought an extra soda/ In the morning when you roll over/ You'll want to say her name."),
Alice By the Moon
makes for delicious listening.