Apologies, I Have None

Pharmacie

Written by: TL on 09/10/2016 12:55:04

England's Apologies, I Have None, named after a lyric by Canadian emotional hardcore band Grade, achieved some renown in punk circles when they debuted with "London" in March of 2012. Since then there's been a bit of line-up shuffling, with the band having to find a new bassist and guitarist and transform from a dual vocal setup to a more traditional single singer approach, so the follow-up, "Pharmacie" has been underway for quite a while by now. It finally dropped in August, however, with the sound still coming off firstly as a British parallel to US punk groups like The Menzingers and Captain, We're Sinking.

The latter band lends itself particularly well to comparison, because similarly to Captain, We're Sinking's "The Future Is Cancelled", Apologies, I Have None seem intent on taking an uncompromising dive into depression with "Pharmacie". Yet where Captain' were speedy, frantic, even chaotic in their songwriting at times, Apologies' take a different, more expansive and gloomy route. With tremolo here and there and a morose atmosphere omnipresent on the record, you're tempted to call the record a punk rock version of black metal, but for less of an exaggerated description, think of the large 'post-punk-rock' kind of sound and songwriting a band like Make Do And Mend has trademarked, only with less angry, scratchy vocals, more of a resigned and embittered British yelp.

"Pharmacie"'s has better moments when the album makes the least noise, though, when it builds up with restraint while frontman Josh Mckenzie go for the more introverted singing style, before ramping up to his Menzingers-like yells. Mckenzie's lyrics have a style that feels like half diary/half confessional, with frequent poetic stylings, and in songs like "The Clarity Of Morning" and "Anything Chemical", his solemn singing of them actually has more impact than elsewhere, where he might be belting them out with more power. Here you get the sense that things really are terrible, and have that unsettling sense of 'watching a car crash' fascination to them, where you want to listen into the soundscape and discover what's caused this overwhelming sadness.

Generally, however, something about "Pharmacie" just feels not right - unbalanced one might even say. The song structures feel a bit meandering as if less intended to give the listener a sense of song identity and cohesion, more to simply lead you from one contemplation of misery to the next, which doesn't exactly help individual tracks stand out apart from by the lyrics. And perhaps more importantly, the relationship between the intimate, gritty vocals and lyricism, and the strangely ceremonious instrumental side of the record, feels like it doesn't quite match. Like the vocals try to say: "this is real misery, pure and simple", while the instruments say: "this is a theatrical take on misery, a dramatization". There are moments where it feels implausible that Mckenzie can actually be as gutted as his lyrics let on, while still patiently indulging in the lingering, weeping notes that make up the soundscape. The wistfulness thus verges dangerously and involuntarily near the slightly ridiculous at times.

In this way, "Pharmacie" is noticeably different from the predecessor "London", where the more down-to-earth punk rock energy of the music fit more with the directness of the vocal style, and where, frankly, more appealing and memorable moments were to be found (even if some were borrowed from Grade). "Pharmacie" feels like the kind of artistic project that has decided to walk the plank with its essential idea, and then, somewhat unsurprisingly, ended up overboard, and you wonder if Apologies would not do well to let the misery simply inspire the compositional effort next time, rather than completely overtake it.

Download: Anything Chemical, Love & Medication, Wraith, Everybody Wants To Talk About Mental Health
For The Fans Of: Captain, We're Sinking; Make Do And Mend; Spanish Love Songs; The Menzingers
Listen: facebook.com/thecolormorale

Release date 26.08.2016
Uncle M Music

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