The delicate opening to ‘Marching Band’, a four track E.P from New Jersey’s The Great War immediately caught my attention. I’ve been listening to a handful of fresh bands of late and I have not yet been so intrigued by an opening few seconds.
First track ‘Songs’ introduces the band with an atmospheric hum, light droplet sounds and a subdued rhythm of drums and bass. The first minute of the track is poised with a very palatable delicacy. It’s an undeniably refreshing and ambiguous start, serving the band much better than a cascade of thick guitars could. The vocal begins in no more than a sentimental whisper, the spoken tone of the opening line “How many songs are there about the seasons?” inviting the audience to engage in the musings of The Great War.
As the second verse begins the vocals get their teeth in a raised and highly familiar sounding voice. In fact, if I didn’t know who I was listening to I would be assured that this was an early Modern Baseball song. The final verse is catalysed with a euphoric, messy breakdown. It has all the elements one could ask for from a emo-revival style track – most poignantly some truthful and near laughably honest lyrics: “Why can’t I write a song about my feelings / Without dissolving into sounding sixteen? / Hide behind cliche so that I don’t reveal me / I want to be a normal guy I want the real thing.”
On ‘Homecoming’ the female vocal came as a pleasant surprise, whilst maintaining a fluid tone and style with ‘Songs’, it gives the track an interesting edge. There’s a varying palette of fuzzy rawness and soft rolling beats, but it’s the defiance of the vocal that truly make this track. At two minutes, I thought all signs were pointing to the song drawing to a close, but ‘Homecoming’ flourishes in a building outro, it’s a breakdown of emotion, snarling with anger then accentuated with a sorry sounding kind of acceptance.
‘Voice’ is a bouncing, ramshackle anthem. There’s a wonderful guitar solo breakdown, and a fast paced spoken style lyric. It’s the lift that the E.P needs, but I can’t deny that it sounds like an echo of a song I already know, almost as if it’s been knitted together from the riffs and breakdowns of other bands.
‘Track Record’ returns to the female vocal. At a glance, I wasn’t sure if I was really enjoying the track. It sounds desperate, broken and somehow dirty. I could almost visualise myself looking into the mirror on a dark day and hearing the words reverberating around me. But with it’s development I became captivated with the complete bare bones of it’s candour, truthfully I think it’s one of the truest depictions of a depressive state that I’ve heard in a long time. Lyrically the coarseness of the words and vocal glimmers and of the whole album the instrumental by far the most mature and intelligently considered. ‘Track Record’ is the jagged diamond of ‘Marching Band’, it’s a genuine flurry of direct and painstakingly believable emotion.
The Great War have the formula to make memorable songs, and there’s a clear passion in their delivery. There are some moments of real emotive excellence and originality in this E.P, all the while there is room for so much more. The Great War are still finding their feet and potentially are stepping too far down an already too well trodden path in some areas, but it’s the flecks of ingenuity which make the sparks fly on Marching Band.