Released: August 6th
22 is my favourite number. Always has been. I’m born on the 22nd, somehow manage to look at the time every night when it’s 22:22 (yeah, I’m serious) and manage to stumble across things with 22 written on them. Like front doors. Not that I cruise the streets looking for the 22nd house of every street, but it’s just that whenever I have to stop in my car, I look to the left or the right and the house number is 22. It’s really freaky. I suppose you could call it a bit like a pandemic but we’ve always been like it – me and 22. The number’s played such a big part in my life that I’ve even had it tattooed in Roman numerals on my right ankle. So, 22 is always going to be with me now. Not much I can do about it, anyway.
I wonder if this 22 obsession is a real-life re-enactment of that film that Jim Carrey was in? You know, the kind of not scary/kind of funny ‘horror’ film he did where he’s haunted by a number? The Number 23 I’ve just found it’s called. I was close, but no cigar. 22 is the only number that really matters, which brings me on to the main point of this review.
Which is the fantastically named band, 22.
Who are due to release their debut album, Flux, on Monday (6th August).
Now, I’ve listened to these guys before after coming across them via a massive YouTube mash-up session. And I was pretty intrigued back then, after listening to the track Algorythm, because I just couldn’t place my finger on what the hell these guys were supposed to be labelled as. Indie? Pop? Prog? Rock? Alternative? Alternative-indie-pop-rock-prog? I wasn’t sure if there was a genre known as the one I’ve just typed (you never know with elitists) so I sort of just slipped them into that category and left them alone for a while to let my brain get back to functioning properly. But that while turned into months, then years, until now, when their debut was sent my way by the good guys at Devil PR – and 22 are just as unmistakably genre-bending as back then.
There should be a warning sign for listeners that listening to too much of this stuff will get you hooked, but you can also easily get hooked to heroin. Have 22 released the musical equivalent of heroin? I wouldn’t bet against it.
The album starts with Plastik, which after an ambient, synthy opening, blasts into a staccato, jangly riff which makes you feel as if you’re a marionette being thrown left, right, up, down by the guitar strings, which twitch and rumble their way through the track. The bass pops, cracks and smirks behind the schizophrenic guitar with the drums doing an excellent job of adding concrete backing to the guitars with really well-structured rhythm and neat timing. The vocals are accessible and melodious, making them easy to sing along to, which makes the track even more catchy. Pop-prog? Yeah, I’d say so. (The video below is a shorter version of the track on the album.)
I Am That I Am has an almost indie riff which soon transgresses into one which reminds, in places, of Dance Gavin Dance’s most tender moments. This track may not have the energy of others, but because it’s so relaxed it really stands out. It shows that 22 don’t just have to lay down a proggy, technical riff to show that they’re a talented band – they can also play a drawn-out, softer track that coalesces their uninhibited accessibility.
Oxygen starts with an off-kilter riff that would really get the pits going; a jarring, constant riff then soon takes over and the melody is as catchy as genital warts. The off-kilter riff later rises again, and it reminds of a bad case of sea sickness – the riff makes your head wobble and the waves of melody keep hitting you and hitting you until the ship hits shore and all is silent, apart from the buzz of thinking ‘what the hell did I just listen to?’ and you press play again. It’s, quite possibly, the strongest track on the album.
Sussurus could be a Muse song if Muse were on an acid and mephedrone trip. The vocals are akin to Matt Bellamy but the music is twisted, spiky and furious in its energy and the track crashes into several genres and spills them all over the floor. Is it pop? Rock? Alternative? Even prog? Hard to decipher but one thing that’s easy to come to the conclusion of is that it’s a great, diverse track that’ll have you moving as if you’ve shit yourself.
22 have a debut album here that sounds more like a third or fourth full-length. The talent and skill that are on show are second to none and it sort of makes me sad that I can’t play bass as well as their bass player. Oh well, 22 have got nothing to be sad about regarding this release. A slap on the back and a few pints – deserved.