JOHN TRON DAVIDSON
As a human ploughing relentlessly towards 40, pressing play on WE WERE SHARKS’ new record ‘Lost Touch’ reminds this writer of his mortality. The sound of 20 summers past rendered in such technicolour fashion can’t help but have an effect on those of us who remember when bands like Bodyjar, Sum 41 and The Offspring stalked the earphones of the young in a blur of wallet chains, gelled spikes and Tony Hawks Pro Skater.
But to hell with all that. Listening to this 6-man pop-punk tank-crew deliver such impossibly youthful lines as “Every song I heard this week/was written about you and me I think” over harmonies tighter than a scene kids’ trousers, becomes a painfully engaging experience once the old man in you acquiesces to the boundless grin on display here. From the artwork down this is pro-level stuff, and the Canadians show utter commitment to delivering sulk-splitting joy at every opportunity.
It would be a churlish lie to pretend even for the briefest of seconds that there’s anything new going on over the course of these ten tracks, so let’s not dwell on that. Instead, let’s talk about the heavy moves.
The drums are incredible. Bordering on excessive in places but somehow totally appropriate, the pummelling underpinning that batters through this otherwise sunny affair which gives the whole album a hard, righteous edge. The 6-man line-up made no sense until your writer saw the videos and listened to the record again. Aside from the vocal work - and the constant harmonies - the guitars are fabulously dense for such a setup, and layered like a motte and bailey castle.
Each song is an exact version of its specific type of pop-punk discipline. Putting aside the fact that We Were Sharks are plying a trade that had its heyday in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s, they have fanatically, academically even, studied each and every feasible cliché, decided that those things were awesome, and buffed them to such a gleaming shine that it’s hard not to be impressed.
Pointing out that ‘Ashley’ and ‘Stay’ feel like the same tune is a waste of time. You’ve heard these vocal lines hundreds of times over the years, but they are perfectly delivered here. The shift in tone on album closer ‘Always You’ shows a meatier, slightly grittier, left-of-centre approach in places. Starting from this more mature place for the next record would produce a sound that, while truly indebted to the bands of yore, shows more of who We Were Sharks really are.
That’s really the only problem with this armour-plated cavalcade of immaculate sunshine - it’s brilliant for the people who are into it. Let’s not forget though - that’s a lot of people, but a band this sharp and musically astute, with three guitars, can stretch their template much, much further. The guest appearance of Broadside’s Ollie Baxxter is a bit unpleasant - his is a normal human voice squeezed down a tiny tube - but there’s very little else to fault in the songwriting department.
If you have a long summer drive ahead of you, it would be hard to recommend this enough. This writer can’t help but admire any band that go at their craft hammer and tongs, and would lay any amount of money that We Were Sharks are a total blast live. An album that carefully examines the wheel before declaring it ideal in every respect, ‘Lost Touch’ is a crystalline, titanium example of summer done right. Wonderful.
Drop The Act
Never Looked Better
We Were Sharks are:
Randy, Jason, Will, Steve, Josh, Colin
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