In today's musical climate, a band's name can be an easy route into working out what they sound like. Even with a name like Max Raptor, nothing can prepare for the joy to be found in second album 'Mother's Ruin'.
'Back of a Barrel Wave' opens the album strongly, a solid slab of riff and chorus underpinned by some ferocious drumming before 'Taming of the Shrewd' offers a cynical view of life, in what has become typical Max Raptor style: intelligent songwriting and lyrics with a sonic backdrop bearing the potential to incite riots.
Where the opening tracks serve as a middle finger in the face of British culture, the arrival of lead single 'England Breathes' sees it become a fist, with a chorus built for the biggest of stages. It's easy to imagine frontman Wil Ray singing, "England breathes as it does, in and out and get over it", with the vocal backing of thousands.
'Evangeline', possibly Mother's Ruin's strongest offering, starts with an uplifting, radio-friendly riff and develops well before ending with another astutely observed, perfectly executed hook. Where 'England Breathes' has a memorable chorus, Ray's shout of "an Englishman's castle is built on a sinking ship" will be rattling around in various recesses of the brain for weeks.
'Heavy Hearts' offers a slower take on proceedings, effect-laden guitars complemented by additional piano arrangements to provide an effective tonic to the early chaos. The album closes with another three up tempo offerings, leaving a silence that yearns for another play.
Sure, it's a little rough around the edges, but the band's ethos comes across strongly throughout 'Mother's Ruin'. Mini-album 'Portraits' served to set out the band's stall early, and their politically-tinged pointing at aspects of British life that just aren't working.
The Midlands-based four-piece describe their sound as 'alternative rock' on their Facebook page. Is it possible they haven't quite heard 'Mother's Ruin' in full? On a base level, it's ten tracks of scorching hook-filled punk'n'roll, but this is 35 minutes bristling with ideas, big choruses and some of the year's finest hooks. To pigeonhole themselves as they have almost seems like Max Raptor are doing themselves a disservice.
In what is becoming a popular niche occupied by the likes of Hawk Eyes and Pulled Apart By Horses, it would be easy to lose Max Raptor in the tide, but with 'Mother's Ruin', they have shown all the attributes of a band ready to ride the crest of the wave.
England may breathe as it does, in and out, but if Max Raptor continue their upward path, we won't get over it.
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