A quick burst of alternative rock makes for a thrilling ride as Cazz Blase enjoys Rews’ debut album
Pyro, the debut album by alternative rock duo Rews, not only proves that they can write a catchy tune with tidy guitar riffs, but also that they don’t hang about. The album is 32 minutes and three seconds long in its entirety, which, while the perfect length for their brand of short punk-infused hard rock, does leave you longing for more.
Comprised of Shauna Tohill (guitar and vocals) and Collette Williams (drums), Rews are one of a number of recent duos on the garage rock, punk and indie scenes who make enough noise for a lineup three times their size. As is the case with both Gothenburg band Pale Honey and Glasgow’s Honeyblood, they have been able to transcend their various influences and create music that sounds new and innovative. Pyro features no stale guitar riffs, no “Haven’t I heard this song before?” moments, just impeccable songwriting.
First track on the album, ‘Let it roll’, blasts the listener with some heavy opening chords, followed by a verse delivered in a slightly bored sounding sing-song voice. This quickly gives way to strong surging riffs and an insistent chorus, all of which places the band in the hard rock courtyard for the following three minutes.
While Rews can clearly take on the swaggering duties of the hard rock world, this isn’t really where their sound lies most of the time. There’s a strong grunge element to a number of the tracks, such as the quiet/loud ‘Violins’ and the single ‘Shine’, both of which have a brooding tension to them. ‘Shine’ is a particularly good song and, as a single, it has proved to be a strong calling card for the band, with a change of tempo mid-song that amps up the tension and rewards the listener as it builds and builds.
Overall though, Rews write faster sounding punk-pop and indie rock tunes such as the infinitely jump up and down to ‘Death Yawn’ and ’Rip up my heart’, the latter being so infectious that I find myself headbanging fiercely to it while waiting for the kettle to boil, and have to suppress the urge to leap around the kitchen like a teenage ferret on speed. It definitely passes the finger tapping test. Similarly, the New Wave synth-infused but guitar led punk-pop of ‘Shake Shake’, while probably the most commercial song on the album, is a great one to jump around to and also feels like it would make a good future single.
On the slightly slower end of the indie rock spectrum, there is the strutty alternative rock of the current single ‘You Tears’ as well as the earlier single ‘Miss you in the dark’, which is an elegant and taut slice of alternative rock with some great wordless vocalising, not to mention pounding drums and a fiercely emphatic chorus. “You can’t bring me down, you can’t bring me down,” insists Tohill, and the result is tremendously powerful.
Towards the end of the album, there are elements of experimentation that suggest a sonic palette far beyond the classic rock rulebook. The inventive ‘We Explode’, for example, has a title like a Slits or Malaria! song but, sound wise, it begins with a vocal that seems to have more in common with modern day R&B than with indie rock, so far as its structure and delivery are concerned. Coming in over-clicky drums and minimalised guitar, it’s a bit like hearing a glitchy R&B track re-interpreted on guitar and drums. A collision of styles that works perfectly and which is in no way disturbed or disrupted by the increasingly dominant guitar during the chorus. As the pace picks up, and the drums kick in, we find ourselves hurtling, thrillingly, towards full-on jump up and down punk-pop.
The concluding track ‘Running Against The Wall’ begins sparsely with just the drums, followed by melodic piano and flawless harmonies. It makes for a strong, epic and moody finish. As with all the best albums, the urge to press repeat, or flip over the vinyl and re-cue the stylus, is irresistible.
Pyro is out now on Marshall Records. The band will be touring the UK throughout November and into December.
Image of Rews provided courtesy of Wilful Publicity. Image shows Shauna Tohill and Collette Williams, dressed in black jeans and black vest tops, standing against a wall of pink, purple, orange and blue coloured corrugated iron.