Nearly Skulls, the faceless band from Manchester let their identity be known in their new album, ‘Bucket Listening’. Whilst we still can’t put a face to the name this versatile band paints a textured portrait of personality with some epic pop-punk/indie-rock qualities and beliefs.

The album opens with the strongly classic rock influenced sounding track ‘Animals’ with elements of Billy Joe Amstrongs vocals shining out the chorus with similarly heartfelt punk-political themes that continue to be heard throughout the whole album. ‘Busted flush’ continues to reinforce feelings of the mid 80s album oriented bands such as Warrant or the slightly older Lynyrd Skynyrd with sweet guitar harmonies and chunky melodics.

A sense of urgency is delivered by the third track ‘Headphones’; an impressively diverse track which keeps the album moving swiftly through to their previously released single ‘American Rules’, which is arguably one of the best tracks on the album.

By this point it’s pretty obvious the band has drawn from a variety of influences to create their sound. Synthy elements emanate from some of these tracks and mid 80s guitar stylism pokes through even in the latter half of this album as it cools down. Each song persistently reminds the listener that this isn’t your average pop-rock band and it’s refreshing to hear so many elements of the rock genre worked so shamelessly into the album as a whole.

The punk political sentiments make for an intensely frank atmosphere as this band continues to commentate on the post-truth internet world we live in. The fourth track on the album was released as a single on Independence Day to take a sharp jibe at Trump with some great lyrical irony.

Please Stop’ is a pleaful ballad for the culture of our times followed by the epic track ‘Move Along’ that continues with these deeply visceral sentiments moving us through to ‘Never Look Back’; a song that progresses past their rock n roll punkery to express more of their eclectic influences.

This track precedes one of their older singles ‘Dots’ of which coupled with the latter acoustic section of the album the vocal techniques and lyrical vignettes of the lead singer might evoke an impression of the singer of The Mountain Goats. Though this maybe the unapologetic northern swing on the british-american vocal tonality.

Superfluous’ picks up the pace again with some first person social commentary from the perspective of an unfortunately pessimistic and disabled individual with lyrics such as ‘we all win sometimes and we all loose’ inciting quite a dismal but arguably true vision of a nihilistic future.

The track ‘Shine Like the Sun’ begins an interesting and beautiful transition into a chilled section of the album with glorious harmonies and acoustic guitar. ‘By the book’ starts off equally as relaxed with a feeling of the more relaxed GNR songs but with gentle angsty anti-establishment notions and by the end has elements of Lyndrd Skynard and The Doors in the soloing. By the time you reach ‘Magic and Joy’ you’ve really had an experience of what a live performance might be like with the arrangement of these songs quite expertly collated. This is a very lead sing, spotlight lighters in the air kind of moment in the album. And the last song ‘Be Better’ gives a final sentiment and ‘ray of shining hope’ to leave you with an optimism that would improve anyone’s day.
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