The most immediate word that comes to mind when listening to the initial handful of tracks of Bull in the Shade is ‘catchy’ and despite the fact that such a word is about as impotent as ‘nice’, it is one that you remain saddled with throughout this album.
For this album slaps you in the face with massive handfuls of catchy at every conjecture. Initially tracks such as Devil’s in the Details, Little Guys, I’m So Sorry feat Sidney Gish (see below) and Name In Lights saunter somewhere in the musical hinterland between the slightest countrified jangle of Bonny Doon and the more raucous attitude of Alien Boy. It then somehow manages to stay grounded in atmospheres that twist and turn between the strains of Horsebeach, Real Estate and Band of Horses. All of these parts would not ordinarily envision images of ‘catchy’ but it’s the sum of these unlikely parts that creates the ear-worms.
However, alongside the overtly hooky, their are signs of attitude. Lead single Slide grumbles and bounds with dominant bass lines threatening, but thankfully never managing to obliterate the fragile jangled riffs it is layered upon, whereas the brilliant Horse and Not Here (see below) assume jangly melodic brattiness of bands such as Tough Age, Saintseneca and Dehd.
Great stuff stuff from a Boston 4-piece who have made an absolute mockery of the ‘difficult sophomore album’ adage.