Book Group bounced onto my radar with two storming EP’s and finally released their debut album earlier this year. Whilst the previous EP’s were very much in a four chord riff tone that sped along, the album is noticeably different. The Scottish band still have the power to rock but they have certainly tweaked their tone to less rawr and more melodic.
Opener “Season of Screams” sums up the tonal shift perfectly. The guitars are brighter, the solo’s more crisp and up front. The song is also longer than three minutes! It’s a strong and bold opener that grows into a riff wave of joy. “Year of the Cat” which follows up is close to their roots but has that professional radio sheen to the production and is as catchy as hell .The vocal delivery has always been great but here – and throughout the album there’s an element of gravelly grungeness to the Scottish accent – like the tiniest bit of megaphone noise. It really makes the difference. “Mayonnaise” also sparks their penchant for quirky lyrics and a bit of tongue in cheek humour that charts the peak of their grunge tinged section of the album before they move off into fresher sounds.
“This Little House of Mine” is a short interlude of keyboards and vocals before the tightly riffed “Kickstart” where the talksy vocal punches through the intricate guitar melodies. The bass and drums very much play back up throughout the album as they rarely solo or go out of step – but the changes of pace here really bring the track to life as we’re yelled at to get some self belief. “Late Show” brings the pace down to mid-tempo that builds into a really interesting conclusion where violin and guitar become one electric concoction and they begin to play off each other in an almost oriental fashion. When you first listen to the track – it’s not really where you expect the track to go and so it’s great to be surprised. “Do You Feel Secure” has a thrashing riff to and plenty of their trademark megaphone vocals but at 85 seconds is over when it feels like it’s just got into its stride.
“Actress/Model” then see’s Book Group move towards organs and distorted guitars. It’s juxtaposition of pretty glitter rock verses and more muddy choruses work well and makes the transitions pop out. The synths stay for “Electricity (Will Be the Death of Me)” as the band pokes fun at the interconnected world of technology and those looking in from the outside. It’s ballad style has a throbbing pulse dance synth really quietly rolling arpeggios in the background whilst strings and guitars gently play around a sonar synth.I really enjoyed how the track creates a soundscape to match the lyrics and show a completely different side to the band. “The Art of Underachieving” is another slow grower as it clumsily plods along into a huge finale of sound that the band usually threw at the entirely length of the song beforehand. It’s then it hits you that actually, what they’ve done is stop you from being sound weary and saved it for the huge sections to make them matter.
As an album, it’s really well paced and pitched and I hope listeners and fans will enjoy it as a whole piece. Book Group have certainly done themselves proud with a stonking album – even if there is a tonal shift between their EP’s and this. When you’re damn good at rock, you can put your hand to all types of it and it’s exciting to see what this talented quartet will do next.
Recommended Track: Year of the Cat