It’s rare to fall in love with an EP on first listen but it does happen. There’s usually a track you’re not quite sure of… sometimes the impression that the format is heavy-hitter plus padding… often it takes a few listens… Only Shadows’ debut ‘Forest Fires’ had me from the start.
The prominent guitar riffs and passionate lyrics sit this 4-track offering firmly in the alt. rock/powerpop categor, with the substance to make Only Shadows a plucky contender amongst its more established genre-mates.
Only Shadows-Be Still (Track 03)
Track 03, ‘Be Still’ was the first track I listened to of the four and personally I think it should have been the first track of the EP itself; it’s an immediate clincher. The opening minute and a half of tender vocals over a perfectly stripped-back instrumental is immensely alluring and a real showcase of the band’s attention to detail in composition. The contrast of the high vocal trills with the heavy drum beat and backing chants afford the lyrics their earnest vulnerability but don’t allow you to think for a second that you’re in for a ballad. When the full force of the track does kick in it is epic. Be Still belongs on a festival stage. It’s the sort of song that demands an overly passionate mime between friends, in a field, with fists of emotion. I love it.
Only Shadows have really defined their style in the very short time they’ve been together and this EP is bursting with confidence. Sure there are areas that would benefit a tweak here and there (I find the drums a little erratic in Track 01, ‘Many a Mountain’) but these little imperfections merely highlight the band’s raw potential.
The title track ‘Forest Fires’ is one of the more reserved tracks on the EP with its slower tempo and longer spells of melodic guitar but it remains typically indicative of Only Shadows’ affection for rousing anthemnic-style hooks and chants. Early in this EP you get the impression that this is a band that makes music with a live audience firmly in mind.
Only Shadows-Forest Fires (Track 02)
In its entirety the Forest Fires EP is a very enjoyable listen. Its tracks are full of guts and personality without compromise on substance. The choice of songs work very well together, with a consistent theme and format running throughout. It would be interesting however, to see if the band would play around with structure when faced with filling out an LP.
Only Shadows have definitely made a confident entrance on the post-punk scene and I’m intrigued to see how they follow up on one of my favourite alt. rock EPs of the year.