The Blackout - Hope
Released April 04, 2011 via Cooking Vinyl | Rating: 4/5 | By Tracey Lowe
It's hard to believe that these guys are already on their third album – they still seem like relative newcomers. But this new album firmly establishes them as a force to be reckoned with. 'Ambition Is Critical' is a swaggering, confident opener, with subtle hints of U2 and (less subtly) Lostprophets peeking through. The tempo picks up on 'Never By Your Side', a vitriolic anthem with Sean Smith and Gavin Butler representing both the light and dark of the vocals with ease and self-assurance. 'Higher And Higher' is a brilliantly fun track, complete with an incredible rap section from Hyro Da Hero, and "woo!" choruses. Slow jam and anthemic album title track 'Hope' is an uplifting track, destined to be lifting the roof off arenas in the near future. Sean Smith is clearly developing as a vocalist, carrying this album wonderfully. Although the songs don’t stretch his vocal range and he’s clearly influenced by countryman Ian Watkins, he has a great presence and tone. A great example of this is 'The Last Goodbye', another slower, radio-friendly rock anthem. 'No More Waiting' is a mature track, with a nod to Rage Against The Machine with the "wake up!" pre-chorus, but it's a really well structured, heartfelt song. These guys already have a big following, and this album is likely to win them even more fans. With uplifting anthems as well as angsty, bile-filled edgier tracks, it's a real mix and a great showcase for the band's growing potential. But the emphasis seems to be on well-written songs rather than straight-up energy filled noise. This is an album made by budding, maturing musicians rather than kids with blind ambition.