Wallflower are one of the UK’s hottest prospects; since their self released EP Where it All Fell Apart in 2017, the band have been on an upward trajectory. Three years may seem like a long time to wait for a debut album, but this is a band that believe in the craft behind an album; from the songwriting to the artwork, this is a release that has been intricately considered.
Starting with the first impression, the artwork for this album is immediately striking, and consists entirely of an image with enough individuality to not require text.On closer examination, the cover has nods towards bands that have influenced Wallflower’s musical output, with the water nodding towards Nirvana, the flowing dress nodding towards Funeral For A Friend, and the building and distorted outline caused by the water nodding towards a lot of iconic emo album covers.
This may be overthinking, but with such a considered approach, the artwork deserves to be overthought.
Even with some visual clues, the epic opener ‘A Parody of…’ comes as a surprise. This serves an introduction to an album that explores and expands the band’s ability in both composition and songwriting.
The angular guitars gently build along with the purposeful drums as the vocal holds focus and within a single vocal crescendo and a fizzing moment of feedback, the song crashes into powerful post hardcore. The effortless building and sharp removal of these walls of noise push the already emotive vocals to the next level.
As each song flows into the next, it is clear this is a release with more creative surprises ahead. The chugging guitar and infectious chorus of ‘Eat Away at my Heart’ pave the gaps between British rock and classic emo on its path towards a guaranteed live favourite.
‘Dread’ starts with the boldest bassline, before pushing emotions with a combination of delicate vocals and yet another hook-filled chorus. ‘Hungry Eyes’ embraces the band’s heavier influences. Within seconds, the crushing guitars become distant with a nod towards Refused, before distortion nods towards nu metal, and the razor-sharp transition from heavy to soft build-up nods to Deftones via math rock.
Although the band’s musical prowess has developed within this set of recordings, the vocal still holds it’s own. ‘Blood and Stone’ offers a soulful surprise that uses the distant floaty guitars of classic rock to build a calming backing to a vocal that shares the emotive burden with the smoothest guitar solo. It is the vocal that drives this track towards Pink Floyd, Radiohead, or Soundgarden with a combination of haunting emotion and perfect pitch.
‘Doom in Your Head’ once more pushes the vocals into the forefront with a combination of the morose post punk of Depeche Mode pushed towards Alkaline Trio’s bitter dark humour.
The songwriting throughout places as much importance on how lyrics are delivered as the well-considered words themselves. There are moments where the bitter humour is delivered deadpan; this creates a conversational tone that is cleverly paired with an emotive growl within ‘On & On’.
The most open lyrical exchanges come with delicate guitar backing and place real prevalence on the vocal; this focus allows for the most emotive moments to be conveyed in a way that feels very natural.
The composition often moves emotion on in a flurry of crashing guitar, or with an infectious chorus, creating moments of deep sadness which play like singles. It is the small moments where incredible attention to detail is clear and the cleverness of this release is most obvious.
This is a release full of stand out tracks and plays through with an effortless ebb and flow, and most importantly, shows that Wallflower is an ever-developing band. As each new influence combines with their creative composition and songwriting, something surprising seems to happen.
This is an incredibly well-considered debut album and leaves listeners with a sense of anticipation for how these songs will fit into an already stacked setlist. Wallflower are a band to keep an eye on with their continual push for creativity, I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Teach Yourself to Swim is out June 5th. Pre-order it here.