Good friends of ours here at Viberant, Middlebrough’s own indie-rock band Whale Hill offer blissful sounds on their first official release; intertwining childhood influences to create a couple of upbeat, catchy tracks on their Broken Rose single. As far as first impressions go, this is a very good start for a young band who will only grow with time.
As someone who knows the band personally, particularly lead singer Reece Mallett, this makes me very happy indeed. I am an absolute sucker for seeing friends prosper and that was the sense I got listening to this. Both tracks sound slick and refined, focused on the sound they want to create and how they want to be recognised.
Starting with the title track Broken Rose, you hear all the promising signs that need to be heard from an emerging band; an obvious homage to influences but above all else a sense of individuality. Having your own identity is crucial to a band’s success and Whale Hill succeed on that front here. The rocky drum beats at the start coincided with the thrasher guitar chords sounds like a pop-punk classic, and once Reece’s vocal starts you can’t help but sway from side to side and tap your toes. The highlight of the song comes in the bridge, both in the harmonies supporting the lead vocals and the stuttering alterations in the instrumental before kicking back into life for a cool finale. A thoroughly listenable track which will slot very nicely into any indie playlist alongside your favourite bands.
It’s Gonna be Lonely has a lovely shoegaze sounding guitar riff that sounds like a fresh take on the sounds of Suede in the early 90s. There’s a joyous atmosphere in the instrumental that juxtaposes well with Reece’s troubled lyrics about heartache and struggle. I really enjoy the difference in vocal pitches when the time is right for him to evoke the right kind of emotion on the track, using elongated notes and demonstrating a lovely vocal range. There is also a great build to the song as it goes on, whether that be from the staggered and variable drum beat or the pace of the bass guitar chords; it offers a solid structure and foundation for a blueprint enjoyable indie anthem.
All in all this is, in the words of Shakin’ Stevens when describing Alan Partridge’s Bouncing Back autobiography: “lovely stuff”. It is a great platform for an emerging band to build their remaining foundations on and hopefully they can progress from here and fulfil the obvious potential they have as a band. Whale Hill are a great bunch of lads, excellent memes and above all else, very good musicians capable of making catchy indie-rock anthems. Well done boys, long may it continue.