|Biting Elbows - 'Biting Elbows' (Misteria Records)|
|Written by Dom Daley|
|Tuesday, 07 August 2012 04:00|
This is a first for me. Russian post punks Biting Elbows (curious name) have a debut UK album release and amidst its lavish packaging it contains twelve tracks that mix together influences of alternative punk as well as some more obvious influences like The Clash ('City Of No Palms'), Green Day ('The Enjoyers') and U.K. Subs ('Kill The Cooks') along with a whole lot in-between. Covering subjects lyrically like global politics, police violence and governments it's fairly standard fair to be... um fair.
So whilst it's all delivered in a very professional package and the production is bright and big I'm struggling to see where these Muscovites fit in exactly as the final track on the album has more to do with the likes of The Smiths with its skipping beat and trumpet than the likes of The Clash or the Subs but like I said there is a mish mash of influences on show and some are obvious and others more subtle but in fairness they've used their influences to create their own sound and rather than just copying a band they like they've merely leaned on them and absorbed the mojo.
'Toothpick' for example has some reggae skank on the guitar as well as some nice choppy bass lines walking all over the track. 'Who Am I To Stand Still' is the first track on the album to introduce the trumpet, this time over a sparse bass driven song which is a good arrangement but is way too '80s alt new wave for my finely tuned eardrums. 'Scaffolds On The Babylon' has a great bass sound and chant along verse and it works really well for Biting Elbows maybe more of this direction than the new wave and I'd be much happier.
Focusing on the positives as I've said already the production is excellent throughout and the bass sound is dark and right in the front of the mix which reminds me a lot of the time of say, The Stranglers perhaps, and a quick glance at the picture of the band dressed in black maybe and putting the two together is an obvious comparison. A lot of the lyrical content is heavy and dark no doubt about it. The band they actually most remind me of would have to be the Violent Femmes with the bass sound and some of the arrangements and this is where the band works best to be honest there is even some Joy Division in here in the lyrics and the jarring rhythms. Maybe if this album was slimmed down a few tracks and the band concentrated on which influences best suits them then they would definitely be onto something.
Also it's worth noting that singer Ilya's English is better and more understandable than a lot of Brits I know. Being outside the mainstream can be a wonderful place to be and for sure Moscow isn't known for producing great underground bands, as far as I know, so maybe Biting Elbows will steal a march on their rivals and this unique selling point will work for them.
Now to the difficult part - finding their audience further afield. Good luck with that.
After giving this album quite a few plays I'm still none the wiser because on the one hand I found it at odds with itself but then I find I'm drawn to it and do like the songs I initially didn't get at all. Biting Elbows are messing with my head and I like that.
It's not instant but it is decent! I think? It's an awkward and dark trip mostly grey if you know what I mean? So in my best Russian - "uspekhov spasibo" (that's "success and thank you" - just in case your Russian isn't up to scratch)
To pick up your copy of 'Biting Elbows [Explicit]' - CLICK HERE