Old Flings came into existence in late 2010 as an outlet for Matt Evans (Just Die!, Megahurtz) to create full songs out of the more subdued and personal acoustic songs he had been writing for the year previous. To lend a helping hand, Evans called upon bassist Jordan Luff (ex-Just Die!) and drummer Travis Hollifield (ex-Nights On Fire) and the first Old Fings line up was formed. After a period touring, mostly up the US East Coast, Hollifield made his escape into the world of big rig trucking and he was replaced by drummer Phil Hickey (Collapse). After releasing a first demo in late 2011, the band have followed it up with their first full-length, Spite. The band describes their music as “90s-era Revelation Records meets Gin Blossoms meets Smashing Pumpkins meets Hum meets Samiam”, and while comparing several different bands doesn’t help conjure up a sound very well, the description is largely accurate. If forced to describe the sound in a combination of genres, it would have to be something along the lines of melodic hardcore combined with a bit of alt rock and power pop anthems.
Opening track “TBC” gives the album a lively, bouncing start. The drum and guitar provides a relatively gentle, funky rhythm with some nice vocal and instrumental transitions into the chorus. The production sounds a little rough, but purposefully so, as if every corner and edge doesn’t have to be smoothed over and why should it be? One thing to note straight away is the promise of 30 second or so instrumental, which is catchy enough to make the soberest of crowds dance around like idiots. “Merry Go Round” has a similar sound, perhaps a little less bass heavy with a more prominent and consistent drum beat, but like TBC it starts off livelier than the rest of the song follows. The jazzy guitar and bass combined with Evans’ more drawl vocals is reminiscent of a Don Broco(ish) sound.
Third song “Senseless” has a strong guitar dominated intro, with the song juxtaposing the chirpy riffs against more gloomy vocals. The repetitiveness of the same chords being repeated throughout can seem to become a little monotonous despite head-nodding, foot-tapping beat, but this is shattered with another interruption by a nice guitar solo which makes me thankful that Evans decided to inject some electricity into what were formerly acoustic tracks. The intro to “Grip” lures the listener in with mellow bassline, but whether it is Evans’ glum vocals or the similar structure that most of the songs have, nothing really makes this stand out from the rest.
“The only things I care about in this goddamn life are me and my drums and you.” The quote by Watts from the 80’s teen romance Some Kind of Wonderful kicks off “Apathetic” which unlike the name suggests is quite an energetic song. The name of the song instead refers to the subject matter, as you probably expect, with Evans asking whoever the song is aimed at “It seems you’d rather cry than strive, are you already dead inside?” The song gives pride of position to a larger selection of drumming prowess than any of the previous tracks, or any that follow, with several positive riffs.
The album as a whole seems very late 80s/early 90s in both sound and influences. Drawing on youthful experiences isn’t necessarily a bad thing though and is probably to be expected considering how most of the songs started out as personal acoustic numbers thought up by Evans. Altogether the album is a solid release, but it would benefit from a little more variety. All songs seem to be cut out of a common framework and Evans’ vocals can become a tad melancholy and overbearing at times. That said, it is a good album and for fans of The Samiam and Texas Is the Reason it’s a must buy.
3.5 out of 5 high fives!