Karate High School

The League Of Tomorrow

Written by: DY on 18/12/2007 02:28:25

When Karate High School hit the scene with their debut "Arcade Rock" back in March last year, they were something fresh, light-hearted and one might have said slightly crazy. But although times have changed, and we are now all too familiar with bands using synthesizers and 8/16 bit Nintendo style effects in their songs, Karate High School hasn't progressed an inch. The title of their once unique debut album now represents a trend which is growing ever more popular and thus, the quality benchmark is pushed higher. While "The League Of Tomorrow" definitely doesn't look up at this bar, it doesn't really look down on it from a great height either.

Firstly, this record is basically an audio book. It chronicles stories from a graphic novel of the same name, stemming from author / vocalist / guitarist / keyboardist / producer (phew) McGuire's love of superhero adventures and was written, recorded and produced from his very own bedroom, choosing not to shell out the big bucks on fancy recording studios, although you wouldn't know it. Musically, the band once again brings a HORSE The Band style combination of pop-punk with infectiously catchy hooks one moment and hardcore style guitars the next, with vocals to match. McGuire's voice is hard not to like, it performs perfectly for the job in hand. It's squeaky clean and higher than your granddad's trousers for the most part, but also utilizes sarcasm, humor and screaming for added fun.

The album begins with "The Secret Handshake", where McGuire asks the "simple question, are you in, or are you out?" It's a great opener, combining the unserious lyrics we had in "Arcade Rock" with simple melodies and over eager synthesizers. It sets a perfect frame for the rest of the album to sit in, and lets you know straight away that although you can't expect anything new in terms of style, you can expect to have 45 minutes of fun listening to the album.

"...And Then You Die" is a superb song and undoubtedly one of the album's highlights. It bursts open with McGuire's meaningless screaming and then jumps straight into verses of humorous lyrical content: "Even though you're innocent, sometimes I just wanna smash your face! When I have my ups and downs, I throw my weight around, and depending on my mood, I'll destroy you too". Those familiar with the previous album will recognize that it is very reminiscent of "Sweep The Leg" in terms of style, and it's similarly one of the harder edged songs on the album.

Shortly after is a song which although I want to hate with every fibre of my being, I just can't. It's called "Welcome To The Broken Hearts Club" and it's just as corny as the title suggests, if not more. It begins with a knock at the door and dives into everything from half sobbed lyrics about gossip "so thank you for treating me like a garbage *sob* can" to the na na na's. Yes it truly is as cringeworthy as it sounds but damn those catchy melodies keep me coming back for more, much to my shame. It's an absolute certainty for the first single and is sure to incite mass singalongs at all the shows. "Three Strikes And You're In" features the same off tune keyboard playing we saw in "Arcade Rock" and the band show they still enjoy slow, lengthy ballads, giving us another one in the form of "The Empire State". Once again it is the longest song on the album (see "Scenes Rushing By" from their debut), clocking in at 6:44. Thankfully though, the band do an impressive job with it and it doesn't disrupt the flow of the album.

"The League Of Tomorrow" isn't going to be the album of the year in its genre, nor is it going to introduce you to a radical new style. But it's great for those times when you just want a soundtrack for a party or when you just want some upbeat music on a miserable day. Having said that, the recent release of the stunning debut album from The Wonder Years puts this record into perspective and shows that this kind of music can actually be done better than this. But given the abnormally high quality of that record, it's an unflattering comparison and "The League Of Tomorrow" should still be given credit for it's contribution to the scene.

Download: ...And Then You Die, The Secret Handshake, Welcome To The Broken Hearts Club
For The Fans Of: HORSE The Band, The Wonder Years, Enter Shikari
Listen: Myspace

Release Date 04.09.2007
Evo Recordings

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