UK pop punk band B-Leaguers released their debut album Death of a Western Heart in February and have enjoyed the success of recently signing with punk label PWVA. Members James Styring, Ched Howard, Mikey Barraclough and Nate Davenport combine their efforts to bring punk, alternative and rock together to produce this sophisticated album. With stand out tracks like Amnesia as well as the title track, these guys are sure to spice up the punk scene.
The first verse of Death of a Western Heart begins with some soft pop, then pumps things up with a classic punk-style chorus. It was clear from the form of the song that these guys have good songwriting skills, with the build up to the climax and the fall to the end perfectly timed. I enjoyed the power chords in the last thirty seconds, but think the vocals could have been turned up a notch as they became lost in the instrumentation. Amnesia had a classic punk vibe, with the use of rests in the guitar and drums at the end if the chorus plus the backing vocals great additions to the track. I think in the guitar solo it would have been more effective to scale up rather than down in the last phrase, but the rest of the solo was gripping.
The arpeggios in the guitar were an interesting change from the previous tracks, and the ending to Numbers was unexpected but definitely in a good way. Canyons (Suburbs and Centres) felt a little asymmetrical at the start, the guitar intro could have gone on for an extra phrase or been cut by a phrase. I also think the cymbol in the third verse was overused and drowned out the other instruments.
Rock and Roller Toons, apart from being aptly (and greatly) named, really highlighted the musical talents of the band. This was the same in Lemonade, where Davenport really killed it on the drums. Although the song was only two minutes long, (and it seemed to go by even quicker), it is definitely a great addition to the album. It took me a few second to discern the beat in Rise and Line, but the echo effect on the vocals as the melody rose higher and became louder was a good use of a classic compositional technique. This song was also a nice change from the previous tracks as it was subtle with no big power chords; a fitting way to end the album.
All in all, Death of a Western Heart shows that the B-Leaguers have musical and compositional talent. With a few minor adjustments to the production and performance of the tracks, it seems as though it could shape up to be a great album. I’m giving it 8/10.
To hear the album, go to B-Leaguers’ Bandcamp
For more info on the group check out their Facebook Page