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The Computers - Birth/Death (Album Review)

Thursday, 29 September 2016 Written by Graeme Marsh

The Computers first bludgeoned their way into earshot back in 2008 with their debut mini-album ‘You Can’t Hide From The Computers’. The Exeter five-piece’s early sound was all about deafening noise, with Al Kershaw’s screeching vocals piercing eardrums aplenty.

Things gradually changed over the course of the next few years. Their second album proper, ‘Love Triangles Hate Squares’, revealed a far more listenable sound influenced by blues, rock ‘n’ roll and soul as much as punk. Within this more cohesive collection there were hints at the direction the band would head in - numbers like the Motown-recalling Mr Saturday Night, for example - but the soul-punk energy and rockabilly style remained dominant.

Produced and mixed by David McEwan, their third collection, ‘Birth/Death’, continues their evolution towards the soul end of the spectrum. After a gospel-like vocal intro depicting the album’s ‘birth’, Want The News? Here’s The Blues kicks in.

The Motown influence is again clear, with its stabbing piano chords creating lashings of foot-tapping fun, and it’s a vibe that continues into the excellent new single This Ain’t Right.

But the Computers don’t let up there. A Hammond organ-backed chorus on the equally bouncy, but stop-start, Mother is effortlessly catchy despite a repetitive lead that plays like the exhausted fumes of what’s gone before. NYE, meanwhile, finds the band bemoaning relationship shortcomings on a reflective last day of the year while more piano shocks conjure images of Disco Sucks from their sophomore LP.

After the rollercoaster ride provided by the record’s opening blows, the energy fizzles out on God Only Knows. The track offers some much needed respite, but does little more than that. Similarly, Pound For Pound doesn’t raise the tempo to previous levels even if its catchy chorus packs a punch.

At the other end of the scale, Weighed Down belts along at breakneck speed without really going anywhere. The copy and paste nature of the track reveals the first signs of ‘Birth/Death’ starting to sound little samey, an accusation that was also aimed at ‘Love Triangles Hate Squares’ in some quarters. Crucifixed On You – also released on last year’s ‘Want The News? Here’s The Blues’ EP – has gone down well at live shows thanks to a decent bridge and some prominent guitar solos, a striking element that’s missing for much of the album’s duration.

Little Death’s average hook sees the album – and Kershaw’s vocals – beginning to stretch and wane, but its closing number, Bad Wolf, is the most soulful effort on show. It’s like the final stage of a transition, in fact. There’s no attempt to cater to a massive melody, just a smooth, chilled out air.

The band’s pre-release announcement asked the listener to fully embrace their new sound, but it’s not until the final track that the changes become crystal clear. There are suggestions that the band’s energetic storm may be about to pass completely, but to do so at the expense of the uplifting energy that has gone before would be a big mistake.

The Computers Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue October 04 2016 - BRISTOL Thekla
Wed October 05 2016 - LONDON Borderline
Thu October 06 2016 - BIRMINGHAM Hare & Hounds.
Fri October 07 2016 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Sat October 08 2016 - EDINBURGH Electric Circus
Mon October 10 2016 - MANCHESTER Gullivers
Tue October 11 2016 - BRIGHTON Bleach
Thu November 03 2016 - HARLOW Square
Sat November 05 2016 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Think Tank
Mon November 07 2016 - GLASGOW King Tuts
Tue November 08 2016 - ABERDEEN Tunnels
Thu November 10 2016 - CARDIFF Moon Club
Fri November 11 2016 - BATH Moles
Sat November 12 2016 - TORQUAY Attic

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