Hull’s Of Allies have come on in leaps and bounds since I first reviewed their second EP ‘Fragments’ back in 2015. With a bunch of money from their million plus Spotify streams being put back into the band and a handful of Patreon contributors that believe in their work giving financial support, they’ve set about upping their game for album number 2 – ‘Are We Better Off’. By and large, that is precisely what they have done, transforming their hard-edged, hook-filled brand of alternative rock into a slickly produced, hard-hitting record brimming with potential.
‘Doublespeak’ opens proceedings with an intro loop of electronics and eerie voices expounding on the tarot before ‘An Echo (Or Nothing)’ kicks in with the OA signature sound. From the off there’s an added maturity as they take their time on this mid-tempo, slightly brooding heavy rocker. It’s like they’re warming up before things really kick in. Recent single ‘Off the Map’, finds the boys in familiar territory, aside from the eighties electronica feel underscoring much of the album to add a little depth, before they really hit their stride on the storming ‘Blossoms’; the massive soaring chorus backed by a blistering riff.
‘Beyond the Wave’ then demonstrates just how far they have come. Its got their classic sound and all the recognizable elements, but it’s all rolled into a brilliantly paced slice of class with a great hook, superb mid-section and pulsating finale, this will be a cracker on stage. It then segues into the slow boiling aggression of ‘Still Memory’; its powerful chorus is a great example of what they can do when they add a touch more power and step away from the familiar structures. They certainly have the talent and dedication to push their craft a little harder, so it’s great to see them play it a little less safe.
They also dig a little deeper on the powerful ‘Liminal Hearts’, which gathers more and more intensity as it progresses through atmospheric verses and a pulsating chorus to culminate in a stunning finale – superb. Other highlights include the single, ‘The Heirophant’, with its moody atmosphere, great riffs and killer hook. Then there’s the throbbing rhythms and thundering riffs of the title track, the simmering grind of ‘Big Mouth’ and the rare acoustic guitar of ‘Goodbye’, a left field ballad with a hint of anger – all quality.
All in all, it’s a classy second outing from Of Allies; repeated listens reveal more and more depth to the record as the hooks work their magic and you delve into the rich textures. With a number of top-drawer tunes and a level of quality that never dips, it’s great to see this hard-working band deliver. Can’t wait for album number 3!
‘Are We Better Off’ by Of Allies is out on December 13th