Lead single and starter track ‘Stitch Yourself Up’, we talked about here previously. In terms of the album, a superb opener. The crooning and falsetto vocals other the stomping drums is a little like Franz Ferdinand in the Nevada desert. Followed by ‘Reasons’, coming across as a strutting take on Wolfmother and Band of Skulls. A smattering of vacuuming synths, radio interference, white noise riffs and tambourine. Similar consistent production as the opener, but nowhere near as strong, nevertheless it feels logical. It finishes with a delay pedal time warp as it goes to third track ‘Shatter’. ‘Shatter’ has a slight ‘country’ feel to it with saloon style piano and slide guitars. As a song it lacks any definition and presence, it sort of foals along and the whimper of the title get frustrating. However…
‘Boom Boom’ starts off the most subdued so far, an instant ear catcher. The verses in 6/8 with snare shuffles, pulse synth questions, guitar answers and choruses in a more conventional 8/8 of furore stamping moshable galore. However, a trick with this song was definitely missed. Due to the over compressed and ‘intense’ sound it comes across as fatiguing and again the energy of the song is lost a little. Saying that, it is easy to imagine it being a great live song. The background guitar phrasing and overall sound reminds me a little of Black Mountain.
The Night is kind of a filler track, with no much to say about it. ‘Give & Take’ starts off in Post rock territory. Long drawn strums and piano stabs are accented by the bass. On first listen it might seem rather bland, but there is a nice desert comic feel to it that is unveiled after multiple listens. Followed by the blues-esque ‘Gimme All You Got’ that first appeared on the released EP. A smooth talking song with a great little chorus, however the tricks and song writing habits are firmly in place now. ‘Liar Liar’ is a short blistering rush of a track that brings up the tempo once again, although it sounds like it was recorded in a bathroom. ‘Cheating Heart’, features the gated drum sound a lot cleaner, a little Magazine reminiscent.
‘This Crooked Wood’ is single worthy material. The production is blended nicely between thrashy noise and Pixies ‘Loud Chorus, Quiet Verse’ dynamics. The solo hints at Jonny Greenwood and Tom Morello glitch, mixed with Josh Homme slide and mid tone fuzziness, before the track collapses down to leave the distant echo of arpeggiated guitars. The whisky ballad styling of ‘Leaving Anyway’ draws the album to a close by slowing things down. The vocals are entwined between head voice and a deeper conversational tone, similar to Johnny Cash in some respect.
Overall, the album is a moderately successful debut, a close call though. Whilst not overtly challenging, the fuzz laden antics work well at points, although the album desires some more moments of clarity and breathers. These songs are designed for the stage and festival crowds, falsetto sing-a-longs and primarily high-octane. It is of no surprise the press release compares them to Band of Skulls and Queens of the Stone Age as it is easy to draw comparisons to particular songs. Nevertheless, despite the album not treading new ground and being far from faultless, it is engaging at times. The biggest danger Little Matador will face is being excessively noise ridden without cause and lacking the fire in the lyrics to back it up and fading into a backdrop. The album has too much filler and not enough variety, yet as standalone songs some of them work much better. Unfortunately the album becomes quite tiring and repetitive too. Little Matador describes itself well in this sense, a furious ferocious charging beast, except oddly petite and thus not quite as powerful as one might have originally thought.
- Stitch Yourself Up 03:34
- Reasons 03:00
- Shatter 04:30
- Boom Boom 03:24
- The Night 03:13
- Give & Take 04:19
- Gimme All You Got 05:28
- Liar Liar 01:51
- Cheating Heart 03:15
- This Crooked Wood 03:19
- Leaving Anyway 02:23
A thank you to the guys at Fiction Records and Lou at Partisan PR for hooking us up with the album early.