Afterimage EP

Written by: TL on 21/12/2013 13:35:50

About a year ago I stumbled upon the Utah band Captives and their debut EP "My Eyes Are Open", the sound of which struck me as impressively honed and charismatic for a debut record. Thus I made note to keep an eye out for the follow-up that would eventually arrive in form of this year's "Afterimage" EP, on which the band continues to explore the reaches of their morose home-territory somewhere in the newly discovered genre landscape between alternative punk rock and depressed, Nirvana-esque grunge revival.

If you've been keeping up, you'll already know that since Brand New dropped "The Devil And God.." and "Daisy", dozens of bands have already ventured out to discover the reaches of the stylistic borderlands beyond their boundaries. This has already blessed us with some minimalistic and grittier-than-your-average punk rock records from the likes of Basement, Title Fight and Daylight, and with some more atmospheric attempts from bands like Seahaven and Balance And Composure. So far - still at the "EP's only" stage of their career - Captives compare handily to any of those bands, yet to my ears they belong mostly in the heavy end of the latter distinction, building their atmosphere up high with the tension of Brand New, the scratchy aggression of Sainthood Reps and the odd dash of moody melody here and there that reminds me of Bayside.

The soundscape is characterised by the vocal exchanges from singers/guitarists Jeff Mudget and Trevor Bookout, one of whom sings in subdued lower notes while the other belts out a toasty howl, and the dynamic they establish is what really brings home the Sainthood Reps comparison for me. What makes Captives stand out further however, is their willingness to let their songs take some rather unpredictable turns in terms of tempo and intensity. This ultimately figures as both strength and weakness: Strength because on one hand the band creates immersive individual parts that contrast each other well and encourage the listener to get into the EP, yet also weakness because even after several listens the progressions feel a bit incoherent, in the sense that you don't get the feeling of direction that you would on songs by Brand New or Seahaven for instance.

The main takeaway from this the second Captives EP then, is a fortified impression of a band that has emerged in a relevant field and are already capable of conjuring up a soundscape that's nuanced and dense enough to match and exceed some of the contemporaries that got off the starting line slightly faster. What needs improvement on an eventual full length is the songwriting, for while opener "All I Have" and closers "To Forget" and "Squander" have some cool moments, they miss the feeling of one part actually leading to another which triggers the gratification you recognise when you're listening to a really well-written song. For now though, "Afterimage" is more of an inviting atmosphere to lose yourself in, than a handful of songs you'll remember individually and put on playlists down the stretch.


Download: All I Have, To Forget, Squander
For The Fans Of: Sainthood Reps, Brand New, Basement, Balance And Composure

Release Date 20.08.2013
Reveille Records

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