|Eureka Machines - 'Remain In Hope' (Self Released)|
|Written by Gaz E|
|Tuesday, 19 March 2013 03:00|
As PledgeMusic campaigns quickly become the fundraising equivalents of 'Sweet Child O' Mine', the hottest flames of this fashionable flash fire need fanning before the inevitable backlash comes to wash away much of the good work.
Eureka Machines, creators of two glorious albums previously (2008 debut 'Do Or Die' and its follow-up, 2011's 'Champion The Underdog'), were ready to throw in the towel. Yes, last year the Leeds-based outfit were contemplating calling time on their short yet impressive career having already scaled back on band activity quite significantly. Then they decided to give this Pledge thing a go, frontman Chris Catalyst no doubt inspired by the enormous interest that accompanied Ginger Wildheart's '555%' fundraising campaign: Catalyst, of course, also guitarist in the Wildhearts mainman's solo band.
The interest that the Eureka Machines Pledge campaign garnered was such that the band didn't have to wonder if anybody would be interested in a new record from them any longer, instead concentrating on turning in a piece of work so fine that it would justify the outpouring of faith towards them.
If you were one of the people who pledged then take a bow because you didn't just save a band, but also provided them with the opportunity to make their best long player yet, an opportunity that they happily snatched at. Yes, 'Remain In Hope', expertly-titled given the circumstances, is a fantastic album, easily the band's most consistent, and already a contender for best of the year.
Opener 'Good Guys Finish Last' couldn't sound any sweeter if it was fashioned by Oompa Loompas in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. Sounding quintessentially British, the Eureka Machines' trademark pop smeared all over it, the song eases itself into your life before unfurling to reveal an introductory taste of the album so enticing that you will not be able to resist: this song is the chocolate river, you are Augustus Gloop.
There's every chance that you've heard 'Pop Star' via the wonderful music video that the band released late last year: the song takes the Eureka Machines of the first two albums and amps it up a notch or two, the sardonic lyricism thankfully enlarged too. 'Love Yourself' follows, its "I'm a contrary bastard" line fitting in perfectly with the song's midsection which, somehow, amazingly, mixes a Wildhearts riff to a Mansun melody creating, as '90s music fans will have guessed, a startlingly catchy piece which, with an added Beatles-ism at its end, sounds like Feeder could if they stopped gazing at their shoes.
You could, in fact, throw a load of soundalikes at this band and this album and they'd all stick, but they'd all go tumbling into the melting pot coming out sounding like just one thing - Eureka Machines. The sound that the band has created for itself is reminiscent of so much cool music of the past - I hear Manic Street Preachers at times, Silver Sun, Jellyfish, Elvis Costello, the list of great artists goes on - yet has been styled into something so cool that it is instantly recognizable...and that's the art right there, borrowing from many, yet sounding unique. This band has mastered that art. It's not just about that sound though is it, it's about what you do with it, and Eureka Machines have worked it into eleven songs that sparkle, soar, seduce - pretty much every literary pat on the back, as it happens.
Songs like 'Believe In Anything', the incredible 'Wish You Were Her', 'Break Stuff' and album closer 'Eternal Machines' (with its superb "we're not old school, we're just old" line and James Dean Bradfield-esque vocals) equally warm and break the heart, dashes of melancholy falling over moments of joyous, effortlessly catchy melody, while the songs on the rockier (rather than power poppier) side of the fence, 'Getting Away', 'Affluenza', 'None Of The Above', are still glazed with a coating so addictive that's I almost go cold turkey when faced with the gap of a few between-song seconds.
'Living In Squalor' perhaps sums up 'Remain In Hope', aurally, best: opening like it should belong on a Hawk Eyes album, the song suddenly falls into gorgeously hook-laden territory, Eureka Machines more genre-bending than schizophrenic. The band has always been this way of course, the links to catchy curios The Scaramanga Six a massive clue, and Catalyst's work with Ginger can't have done anything but help the thinking behind these glorious tunes that blur biting riffs and huge choruses into three and four minute songs de force.
'Remain In Hope' has the nous and songwriting suss to be loved equally by fans of The Wildhearts and fans of, say, Fountains Of Wayne: intelligent of lyric, tongue firmly in cheek at times, and immense in the crafting of timeless pop-tinged rock songs. All that matters, though, is that it will be loved...and by many. All who hear it, I bet.
Album of the year? It won't be far away.