Monday, April 23, 2012

Sound&Shape - Hourglass

Sorry.  I ran out of superlatives for Sound&Shape a long time ago.

I ran out of ways to describe their incredibly complex yet infinitely melodic and listenable brand of progressive modern rock.  I've ran out of new words to sum up the passion and energy and flows like a roaring river through their songs.  I've searched for bands to compare them to, always kind of drifting back towards Mars Volta.  But here's the thing.  I don't like Mars Volta.  But I dig Sound&Shape, through their first two EP's and now into their full length, Hourglass.

Strangely enough, (in my mind) Sound&Shape first came to me by way of the cool, UK punk label, Engineer Records, and Sound&Shape's release, the killer The Love Electric.  They've also been embraced by the punk community, with a profile up on  But they're not punk.  Maybe in D.I.Y. ethic, and energy that has found them playing hundreds of shows.  But trust me, they're not punk.

Musicianship reigns supreme here.  Each song is a mini-epic, all glued together by undeniable melodies and phenomenal playing. Complex arrangements that dip and dive between time changes and an altering landscape of riffs.  Each member of this three-piece is a master of their instrument, blending each part into a unified whole that somehow never sounds messy, cluttered or up it's own ass.  The key to this is the songwriting which never loses site of the fact that melody and tunefullness are as--if not more important-- that musical dexterity.  Songs like "No Time to Explain" and "Everybody Leaves" explode from my stereo speakers with aggressive abandon, and in lesser hands could drift off into masturbatory territory.  But now with these guys. The song structures are so tight (while still leaving ample room for exploration,), and the melodies are so sweet that these songs could be on any radio station that's willing to push the boundaries

 "Wolves in the Forest" delves in gentler territory while being no less ferocious.  "Whispering Boy" ups the intensity with it's driving beat and fast and gentle tempo changes.  "Hourglass" is a rampaging journey through realms of conflicting intensities.  Heavy riffing alternating with sunsets of gentler passages, and all wrapped up in melodies smooth enough to hook me instantly.  Then finally, on "Signals" I finally latch upon the band that Sound&Shape most remind me of.  Minus the quirk, and with a big added touch of progressive exploration and good old rock, I hear a refined and updated XTC here.  But really, Sound&Shape are beyond compare.

Just another example of mind-bending, melodic alt rock from the boys.  In truth, I would've expected nothing less.  Now, I just have to find new superlatives before they release their next album.


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